Scooters are a thing of the past, you think so too right? Well, an unlikely partnership between Xiaomi and Ninebot may make us rethink that statement. The Chinese electronics upstart — better known for the cutting edge electronic gadgets it offers — has teamed up with transportation robotics start-up Ninebot inc. and is about to introduce the self-balancing scooter RMB 1,999 Ninebot Mini, to the Chinese market.
RMB 1,999 is Ninebot’s most notable attempt at the scooter market after its acquisition of Segway in April, however, with its price tag of merely $314, the RMB is in stark contrast to the Segway rides which promised to burn a hole in your pocket with prices typically starting from around $6000.
However, Ninebot’s latest does make certain concessions in terms of power and speed in order to account for this drastic price difference.
The Scooter has a range of 22km in a single charge and can hum along at a maximum speed of 16km/h. However on the plus side, it weighs just 12.8 Kg — meaning that you can lug it around if you have to! — and can support loads of up to 85 Kg. Just the thing for going to the post office a few blocks away, definitely not rally material though.
Xiaomi’s involvement is another surprising development, although the signs of an impending collaboration were present as early as April when you stop to consider Xiaomi’s hand (It was one of the investors in a $80 million fundraiser by NB) behind Ninebot’s Segway acquisition.
While we do not exactly know what changes the former’s participation will entail, a smartphone app that can help you control the direction of the scooter along with locking it is certainly suggestive. Although controlling directions by smartphone seems to me like an accident just waiting to happen. After all, who could resist the urge to pop in and check WhatsApp or Facebook or Instagram for just a split second?
However, the company has undoubtedly taken all the facts into account and prepared safeguards — a lock screen that keeps you on the direction controls while the scooter is running, perhaps?
Despite the low power under the hood, the RMB 1,999 is undoubtedly a great alternative to walking distances that are too short for you to bother with taking out your car, and with its pocket friendly approach it might just make a hit, particularly on the over-crowded Chinese streets.
The self balancing scooter will be available for purchase in China via mi.com, starting the 3rd of November and both Ninebot and Xiaomi seem content to keep it exclusively on the home turf at present.
The launch of the Ninebot Mini incidentally coincides with the release of Xiaomi’s brand new $800 Mi TV 3, which is being hailed by the company as the “next generation of its Android smart TV.”
While certainly a tall claim to make, the Mi TV 3 backs it up with an innovative and as of yet unheard-of modular approach, that lets you buy the Mi TV Bar — housing the TV3 motherboard and the sound — for just $160 and pair it with your own television for an in-house, insta upgrade.