For many people, a smart TV is the hub of their entertainment and smart home. A smart TV allows users to cut the cord and enjoy limitless on-demand Internet content. Today, smart TVs are growing in popularity and preference across the globe, with most of the world’s major TV manufacturers making smart TVs.
Xiaomi established its Mi TV team in 2012, with the ambition of “building the world’s best smart TVs that everyone can afford” in accordance with the company’s core value to offer consumers high-quality and well-designed products at accessible prices.
Back then, during an internal meeting, Lei Jun, our founder and CEO, told the team that because the company has already put a great number of small screens in people’s hands through Xiaomi’s successful smartphone series, there was now an opportunity to put larger screens in people’s homes. We therefore set out to create smart TVs that followed our product philosophy of being as user-friendly and as “smart” as possible. Other than delivering Internet services, our TVs also act as a hub for our wide array of smart home products.
Wang Chuan, our co-founder who leads Mi TV operations, has deep experience in the TV industry and we were fortunate he was able to bring this expertise and understanding of hardware and supply chains to Xiaomi.
Despite this, it was a challenging start for our Mi TV team. Wang Chuan recalled his experience of visiting nine suppliers in eight cities within five days. Additionally, the TV engineers had to stay at the factories for three months to make sure that the entire manufacturing process met our strict standards. Their hard work finally paid off as Mi TV has become the fastest growing TV brand in China in 2017, even amid an overall market downturn. In fact, in last September and October, Mi TV was named the bestselling smart TV brand on Tmall and JD, China’s leading e-commerce platforms.
Innovation, the key to our success
Wang Chuan attributes Mi TV’s success to our relentless exploration for innovation. The Mi TV includes multiple innovative features including:
11-key remote control
Our first TV product, Mi TV 1, running on our MIUI system, was announced in September 2013, bringing a simplified smart TV interface and the innovative 11-key remote control.
Remote controls used to come with dozens of keys, easily confusing consumers. We solved this pain point by removing unused keys, simplifying the user experience.
Mi TV 2, which was announced in 2014, came with an independent soundbar with nine built-in speakers and a subwoofer, which significantly improved sound quality while watching movies or playing games.
Innovative modular design
Mi TV 3 was crafted with a modular design approach when launched in 2015, redefining the 60-inch 4K TV industry in China. It was separated into two parts: a 60-inch LG true 4K display and the Mi TV Bar, which incorporates the motherboard, Mi Box content and a world-class independent sound system. As the Mi TV Bar could be paired with any screen that has a HDMI port, with a Mi Port-to-HDMI cable, users could simply purchase a Mi TV Bar if they wanted to upgrade their old TV for a much lower cost than changing the entire TV set.
The content first PatchWall system
Besides making updates on the hardware, “content first” has always been our Mi TV team’s guiding theme. Mi TV has become China’s largest TV content hub by partnering with the country’s top video websites including iQiyi, Tencent Video, Sohu Video, and PPTV.
We reached another milestone in September 2016, at the launch event of Mi TV 3S, where we announced our own AI TV system PatchWall, which truly amplifies the content and user experience. It can predict content based on what users have watched to provide more accurate recommendations through deep learning, and feature users’ favorite on the homepage.
PatchWall proved to be a big hit in China’s smart TV market, winning awards including “the best TV OS in 2016”.
Furthering our TV’s position as the hub of the smart home, we announced the Mi TV 4A in March 2017. This model integrates voice commands to PatchWall, so users can verbally tell their Mi TVs to search for a particular movie. They can also ask their TVs to control connected Mi Ecosystem products, such as a Mi Air Purifier and a Mi Robot Vacuum.
We’re always exploring ways to improve our craftsmanship, and it’s been noticed by our fans and industry alike. Mi TV 3 has won the world-renowned Red Dot Award 2016 for its design, and now Mi TV 4 offers the world’s first 4.9 mm, super slim body which is almost frameless.
“Today, I think we’ve reached our goal and all the hard work has truly paid off,” said Wang Chuan, who couldn’t help but get emotional during the launch event for Mi TV 4 in May 2017.
And Lei Jun, who had been waiting quietly in a backstage VIP room, was ready to give Wang and the Mi TV team his warmest congratulations.