(Yicai Global) May 9 -- Saturation of China's home appliance market is leading domestic manufacturers to shift their focus abroad.
China's household appliance makers will begin to pursue intelligence-based development, an industry insider told Yicai Global at the 121st China Import and Export Fair, better known as the Canton Fair, which was held in April. However, intelligent products are even less helpful in facilitating exports, he added.
Highlights at the fair included Haier Group Corp.'s U+ platform and intelligent home appliances, Midea Group's [SHE:000333] M-Smart platform and smart air conditioner and Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai's [SHE:000651] smart home furnishings, among others.
Guangdong Chigo Air Conditioning Co. will ramp up efforts overseas, said Li Xinghao, president. The firm hopes to see exports make up 30 percent of its exports this year while it vigorously promotes its intelligent cloud air conditioner.
As intelligent products are compatible with several major platforms, additional costs are low, said Li Yubing, chief technology officer for Hefei Meiling Co. [SHE:000521]. This is why intelligent home appliances make appearing at so many exhibits at the Canton Fair, Appliance World Expo, Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin and the Consumer Electronics Show. However, they are not being exported all that much at present, he added.
When asked about why intelligent products are still hitting snags on the global market, Li said that as they need to be connected to the cloud, Chinese firms must set up overseas servers with local suppliers, raising entry barriers to the export market. Intellectual rights and technology access are also hurdles, he said, adding that foreign markets have particular demands for smart fridges, so Meiling is still trialing exporting the products.
Teaming up with foreign technical operators may be one way to get overseas. Guangdong Galanz Group Co. and Ayla Networks Corp. have a strategic agreement which will see Galanz's home products, such as integrated microwave-steamer-oven combos, enter developed markets this year.
Chinese market players need to capture overseas markets if they intend to compete globally in artificial intelligence and smart technology, said Zhou Nan, secretary general of the home appliance branch at China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products.