Google has been making the headlines for its internet of things ambitions, particularly with its $3.2 billion Nest acquisition, and now two top Chinese e-commerce firms are moving into the space with their own individual platforms that aim to aid smart home appliance manufacturers.
Fresh off a US IPO that raised $1.78 billion last month, Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com announced the launch of a cloud platform to help manufacturers in the ‘internet of things’ sector come up with more appealing products for online shoppers. A spokesperson revealed that it will use big data to help manufacturers understand consumers’ needs.
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The Smart Cloud service provides free cloud computing support for JD’s home appliance partners, including features such as cloud storage, big data analysis and the support for creating what’s known as super-apps to manage all home appliances in a single place. To kickstart its program, the company has signed a collaborative agreement with a number of Chinese consumer electronics and home appliance manufacturers, including Haier, Hisense, TCL, Huawei and Lenovo.
“As a major seller of home appliances in China, we believe JD Smart Cloud has the potential to help manufacturers provide better, smarter appliances for our customers,” a JD spokesperson told TNW.
JD’s push into this sector also comes hot on the heels of its partnership with Tencent, which took a 15 percent stake in JD, with Bloomberg pinning the deal at $214.7 million. Tencent also subsequently further subscribed at IPO price for an additional 5 percent of JD, which the company revealed amounted to $1.3 billion from the issuance of 138,014,720 Class A ordinary shares.
In the meantime, a website from Alibaba’s cloud service Aliyun has just gone live — which also aims to help manufacturers with services they may need in their process to produce smart home appliances. Alibaba hasn’t announced any partnerships yet, which makes its approach slightly more passive, but the site is available for manufacturers to access. They can tap on the cloud storage service, Taobao login systems and payment mechanisms, as well as developer platforms to help with app solutions.
It is definitely uncanny how both rivals launched their internet of things platforms at the same time. JD is probably one step ahead of Alibaba with its agreements and use of big data to help manufacturers better cater to consumers, but Alibaba has a much wider presence and is likely to launch new initiatives that could see it chasing up soon.
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