The world may not be coming up with the innovation compared to the US, but it is doing a better job of using it.
Xiaomi, the China-based electronics company that also happens to be the 3rd largest distributor of smartphones in the world, has become the latest international giant to reap the benefits of American ingenuity with a contribution to an overall $40 million investment in California tech firm Misfit Wearables. The firm's very first product- Shine- is apparently a major hit with Mainland Chinese users and the country accounts for a third of Misfit's sales. It's a figure growing so exponentially fast the company of 130 people is looking into major moves to keep up production.
While wearable technology like Misfit's Shine is not exactly high in demand throughout the United States, much of that is due to lack of awareness of what wearables actually do, rather than customer distaste. Shine measures a variety of fitness and movement activities to track the users physical well-being (increasingly coming into the American consumer's mindset these days). In addition, the coin-thick wristlet can track how effective sleeping patterns are as well.
It's not a product with video games, text apps, or entertainment technology, and so it's easy to see how such a practical-minded tool could be ho-hummed by investors in the US. Hong-Kong-based Horizons Venture, however, saw the potential of this kind of product in the Asian market, and was the first to jump in with a $15 million infusion roundup back in 2012. Now, Xiaomi's plunge on top of that is a clear signal of wearables' momentum with Asian consumers.
Which begs an important question: how out of touch with the Asian customer landscape are US venture firms that none of them have put this type of large chunk into Misfit's operations. While it's exciting to see a California company get this kind of opportunity to grow and invest into its surrounding business community, it's equally as disheartening to know the start-up's potential was overlooked right here at home. There's nothing wrong with international shareholders bridging the gap across the Pacific, but more American involvement in risky investment would translate to more direct benefits to the nation's job, manufacturing, and construction infrastructure.
Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company (www.rotorclip.com).