Xiaomi, the Chinese company that, in 2014, launched a $13 activity tracker -- in stark contrast to the $50 to $200 price point devices typically common in the US -- has done it again. Today the company announced that it would launch the $23 MiBand 2 later this month. Like its predecessors, the MiBand and the MiBand Pulse, it will not be available in the US.
The MiBand 2 shares a number of features with higher-end activity trackers. Unlike its predecessors, it includes an on-device display that can show the time of day as well as your step count, calories burned, and a new metric: heart rate, which the device also tracks. It also has sleep monitoring functions and a vibrating alarm that tells the user when they haven't moved in a while.
The device is water-resistant and hypo-allergenic and boasts a 20-day battery life. It goes on sale June 7 in China.
Xiaomi has sold 20 million of its devices, according to Forbes, making it the second most popular wearable maker behind Fitbit. But so far the company hasn't expanded its sales outside of China. That's still theoretically planned for the future, but various challenges including a different patent landscape and different business models for selling phones, Xiaomi's main business, are making the company a little gunshy about other markets, particularly the US.
When and if Xiaomi enters the US market, the effect on the wearable fitness tracker competitive landscape could be significant. Even in the US where surveys have suggested that brand is a bigger driver of purchase than cost, the availability of such a drastically cheaper device could change consumer behavior.