China team up to produce smart running shoes
March 31, 2015
China's Li Ning is teaming up with Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi to produce a new generation of smart running shoes this year, in the sports brand's latest effort to revive its waning fortunes.
Li Ning, backed by private equity powerhouse TPG Capital and Singapore wealth fund GIC, warned in January that it expects to post its third consecutive full-year loss, as it grapples with a restructuring, bloated inventories and slowing demand following the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Li Ning's efforts to recapture its glory days by appealing to a younger generation have been evident in its product design and high-profile marketing campaigns. In 2013, it signed a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with NBA basketball superstar Dwayne Wade.
Li Ning said its partnership with Huami Technology, the fitness wearable company behind the Mi band and part of the Xiaomi ecosystem, is said to be the first collaboration between sports and smart technology in China.
"We have chosen to collaborate with the Mi band because of Huami Technology's strength in smart wearable products," Li Ning said in a statement. "We hope to use this opportunity to provide professional smart running shoes to running enthusiasts in China at an affordable price."
Smart chips are to be placed in the soles of Li Ning running shoes. The smart running shoes will be connected to a Xiaomi mobile app, allowing runners to keep track of their progress and results, analyse their form, and monitor their achievements.
• Xiaomi has announced that it plans to start local production of smartphones in India within 12 to 18 months. The company entered the Indian market last year selling low-priced smartphones.
"We want to invest deeply in this market, we want to have a significant amount of research and development done here, not only for India but the rest of the world," said Hugo Barra Xiaomi’s vice president of international operations. "The fundamental point is we want to build deeply rooted Indian products because this is a hugely important market for us and there is nothing more powerful than being a local business, We are looking at the domestic market to start with but as we expand into other markets, particularly other markets in south Asia, it could make sense to export.”
In December, Swedish telecoms equipment firm Ericsson obtained a court order temporarily halting Xiaomi’s shipments to India, claiming the Chinese company had not been paying royalties on its patents. The matter is pending in an Indian court. However, Barra said it was "business as usual" for Xiaomi, which sold upwards of 60,000 phones a week last year.