Venture-Backed Chinese Xiaomi Introduces Fitness Drone

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi Inc. is adding a new fitness drone to its product line of smartphones and wearables, according to Chinese media reports.

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The new fitness drone, called the Mi Drone, may be connected to Xiaomi’s fitness tracking wristband.  The drone would follow the user as they engaged in exercise by pinging the wristband.  The price of the Mi Drone is expected to be about $150 US dollars, following Xiaomi’s existing market strategy of providing low priced consumer electronics.

Xiaomi is betting that the low price will attract even more users to the rapidly growing drone market, expanding the sector at a faster rate than market analysts predict.

Xiaomi raised US$1.1 billion in a new round of financing from DST Global, All-Stars Investment Ltd., Yunfeng Capital and others in December; the company showed a US$45 billion valuation.

The move in to the drone space is only the latest in Xiaomi’s expansion into all types of low-priced consumer electronics.  In April 2015, Xiaomi, Shunwei Capital, Sequoia Capital and WestSummit Capital, invested US$80 million in Ninebot Inc., the Chinese firm which acquired Segway PT; and the company launched the Xiaomi Ninebot Mini in China last November, priced around $300 US.

While the drone market is still small compared with Xiaomi’s smartphone business – estimated to have reached almost $10 billion US in 2015 – drones are a sure way to attract investor attention in China and the US: investment in drone companies expanded last year, as CB Insights reports that investment topped $450 million.

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