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October 21, 2015

$316 Hoverboard Launches

Ninebot_Mini_2-copy

It comes from China.

Finally.

I've been waiting for the Chinese Apple and Xiaomi might just be it.

From Forbes:

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Last April Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi took part in an $80 million investment in scooter maker Ninebot.

At around the same time, Ninebot acquired its iconic American rival Segway for an undisclosed sum.

On Monday we saw the first fruits of that corporate union.

The Ninebot Mini is a self-balancing scooter or "hoverboard," as these devices are now for better or worse, being called.

Ninebot is using the same cut-price tactics that made Xiaomi famous, touting that the Ninebot Mini costs "a quarter of the price of other comparable self-balancing scooters in China," at $316, or RMB 1,999.

For now the device is only being sold in China.

Unlike most hoverboards and a little like the iconic Segway, it features a knee-high handle.

Xiaomi calls it a steering stick that "detects the movement of the rider's legs using Ninebot's latest Leansteer technology."

The device comes with a mobile app that allows you to control the scooter's movement... and to set an alarm if the scooter is moved.

Xiaomi says the Ninebot Mini can travel 22 kilometres (about 13 miles) on a single charge, at a top speed of 16 kilometres (about 10 miles) an hour.

It can support a weight of up to 85 kg (187 lbs.) and is relatively lightweight itself at 12.8 kg (28 lbs.).

The device is the first product that Ninebot has launched since buying Segway, which the company describes as a "wholly-owned subsidiary."

Dean Kamen, a prolific inventor from New Hampshire, founded Segway in 2001.

The large, self-balancing scooter had much larger wheels than the hoverboards of today and waist-high handles.

It used a gyroscopic stabilization system to balance riders.

Despite much fanfare at launch including reported praise from Steve Jobs and venture capitalist John Doerr, Kamen's company struggled to grow profits or find mainstream success beyond the remit of mall and airport cops.

In September 2014 Segway tried to ban Ninebot from exporting its products to the U.S., saying the company had infringed on its earlier patents. (Ninebot also sells an electric unicycle for roughly $800 on Amazon.)

Half a year later, Ninebot acquired Segway, saying both brands would continue to operate under their different names.

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[via Parmy Olson]

October 21, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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