The strange circle of intelligent hardware entrepreneurship: the giants do the ecology, the entrepreneurs come to the team

Not long ago, a smart hardware entrepreneur chatted with the author about the future. The entrepreneur said that the current smart hardware is at the top of the air, but the opportunity is not a small player. He also said that the current WiFi smart socket hardware project has been closed and I want to see if there are more opportunities in the mobile medical field. At present, the current situation of intelligent hardware is that the industry enthusiasm and concept are on the decline, consumers and investors have begun to wait and see, and the explosion of single items is also rare, many entrepreneurs have also encountered supply chain crisis. Many startups are struggling to survive, and many entrepreneurs choose to opt out to find survival opportunities in other areas.

Giants do ecological small and medium entrepreneurs rely on the capital station team to make choices

Despite this, the Internet giant is still enthusiastic. For example, Tencent, which has not been released, has launched the TOS+ open platform based on smart hardware. Tencent COO Ren Yuxi said: "Tencent hopes to join the open intelligent hardware ecosystem, open a free intelligent hardware platform, share account systems, share resources, and establish a three-dimensional business model.

Up to now, the BAT Big Three have already entered the smart hardware industry. We have seen that Ali has integrated three business units of the Group's Tmall Electric City, Ali Smart Cloud and Taobao Crowdfunding, and established the Smart Life Division to promote smart products. Tencent launched TOS+ open platform, WeChat to be a connector, and is committed to establishing an entrepreneur access platform. Baidu's "BaiduInside" program for innovative smart hardware, the Baidu Inside platform, and the launch of Baidu Future Store based on intelligent hardware aggregation sales, and the launch of the dulife platform for health monitoring. In addition, Jingdong has a hardware incubation plan JD+, Xiaomi's intelligent hardware ecosystem has been expanding in a borderless layout. On the other hand, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs have withdrawn, and newcomers have entered the market. The products from unknown smart scales to smart water cups, smart bracelets, smart routers, smart children's thermometers, smart sockets, etc. are dazzling.

The division of labor seems to be quite obvious. Internet giant companies have platforms with technologies, big data advantages, and user resources. They tend to focus on the long-term and exert their efforts in ecological construction. Small and medium-sized entrepreneurs are absent from the advantages of the giants, lack of platform, lack of funds, technology and brand, can only look to the giants to do the ecology, they can only make choices, choose the appropriate time nodes and vertical areas that are temporarily ignored by the giants. The project, while relying on the cooperation between the capital market blood transfusion and the industrial chain.

This year, relevant institutions released a "China Intelligent Hardware Trend Analysis Report", pointing out that the sales of China's smart products market in 2014 was nearly 1 billion yuan, but in 2014, the smart hardware industry financing amounted to 4.7 billion yuan. The nature of smart hardware startups that rely heavily on capital market financing has surfaced. The small and medium-sized entrepreneurs of intelligent hardware clearly know that the resources invested and the time nodes that are cut in are not right, and the capital chain is broken, and it will die soon.

Intelligent hardware

The natural weakness of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs: lack of information services and content ecosystem supporting hardware

Compared with the giants who hold the core advantages of users, big data, technology, and cloud computing capabilities, the challenge for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs is to support the core of intelligent hardware products—the shortage of information services and content ecology that support the hardware itself. Software and cloud service capabilities, platform ecosystem creation ability is the core match point for future smart hardware to seize the commanding heights. The intelligent hardware products themselves involve hardware, network, operating system and applications, cloud computing, and big data capabilities. The latter three are the ecosystem of content and service construction, all of which are in the hands of Internet giants.

The purpose of the giants is clear: they are all intelligent hardware data centers, connectors or core content distribution and transfer stations, they have to control the content or information services of the entire intelligent hardware industry chain. We must know that the reason why intelligent hardware is called intelligence lies in the intelligent service support of the content and information ecology of the product itself. The content and service of the product itself is one of the core competencies of intelligent hardware. Apple's Apple watch, its content ecology and information service capabilities under the support of the iOS system is the ecological competitiveness of content outside the hardware.

Tencent COO Ren Yuzhen also said: "Now many hardware can detect people's information, but these data can not be linked with future medical equipment, it will lose value." In this regard, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs must rely on the giant's connection strategy, Once the giants are in the field of smart hardware, the small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in intelligent hardware will be passively caught in the whirlpool of a new round of giants.

Hardware product threshold, channel construction, and supply chain cooperation test the entrepreneur's capital ability and execution ability

Therefore, under the shadow of giants, for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in intelligent hardware, the core is not to do the ecology, but to do the hardware products themselves. The threshold of intelligent hardware is relatively high. It is not like doing APP. It can even be used by three or five people to make tens of thousands of pieces. It can be generated by self-generated software. Intelligent hardware products must meet the needs of a certain segment of the population, and the product itself must have its own ideas and innovations, from product concept to open mold design, to the standard setting of hardware components, are testing the hardware of entrepreneurs Innovation and design capabilities.

On the other hand, "smart hardware entrepreneurship has its own particularity. The combination of intelligent hardware and software, compared with software startup, the intermediate cost is higher." To know, most of the small and medium-sized entrepreneurs launched smart hardware products are choice and foundry Cooperation, therefore, whether there is a stable raw material supplier, whether it has the bargaining chip with manufacturers and suppliers, it is very important to have stable procurement channels and online and offline sales channels when marketing is rolled out.

Therefore, from the product design innovation threshold, to online and offline, agents, physical stores and other offline offline channels and manufacturers, suppliers and other industrial chain links, as well as financing, pulling users and other issues are testing entrepreneurship Execution and capital capabilities.

Trial and error opportunity cost, product quality and principle design is difficult to hit the user's pain point

In addition, intelligent hardware also has high requirements for process and quality. Products are developed, marketed, and marketed. The cycle is long, and there is no opportunity for trial and error. Generally speaking, the production of intelligent hardware needs to find a suitable one. Foundry, but the function of the product foundry can not be detected, so the need for intelligent hardware developers to detect, so that it is impossible to achieve rapid iteration, rapid iteration will undoubtedly lead to product jumps and various quality problems frequently The brand that has occurred and affects the overall quality of word of mouth crisis. If the cost of trial and error of mobile APP is low, the product can be quickly repaired and iterated, but with intelligent hardware, mistakes and hard injuries on the product often directly shut down a company.

On the other hand, because of the smart hardware projects with strong sense of technology, similar to products such as smart watches, the huge investment in research and development is not affordable for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. Therefore, at present, we can see that many smart hardware products launched by small and medium-sized entrepreneurs are smart water cups, smart sockets, smart foot rings, smart maternal and child hardware and other products. But the key to success of this type of intelligent hardware product depends on whether the design and positioning hit the user's pain point.

However, in the eyes of many small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, intelligent hardware seems to be a smart hardware with the addition of smart elements such as sensors and APP controls. In addition, there are also many smart hardware entrepreneurs who cut into the concept of play from the point of whether the product has marketing gimmicks. We have seen that there are wedding couples that have launched a couple of bracelets. In fact, after the smartphone era, consumers are smart hardware. The expectations are far more than that. Similar to smart sockets, smart bulbs, smart routers and other smart home products, almost the design principle is that you can control the home electrical equipment through the APP, and switch control, but obviously, this is too far from the real needs of users, controlled by mobile APP The hardware that can be operated with a handful of gestures does not hit the user's pain points. On the other hand, it is the appearance of the product and the texture of the product itself. Their common characteristics are often the rough components and lack of design. This is the smart hardware startup we have seen, although it is very hot in concept, but it is still difficult to generate the explosion.

Back to the beginning of the article, the entrepreneur also said that the current small players in many smart hardware have ideas and ideas, but also play the concept, but there is no risk control ability, most choose to cooperate with the foundry, but due to the limitations of its own technical funds Often, the chain of R&D and design of hardware products is falling, the wind is always there, and the dreams of entrepreneurs are always there, but their spring is still far away.

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