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iRobot sweeping, mopping China

By Zhang Ruinan in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-04-23 15:22

With an eye to making China one of the largest markets for its home robot vacuums, iRobot says it welcomes China's fast-paced robotic development and is eager to leverage that and invest more in research and development.

"The Chinese consumer is developing into one of the largest markets for robot vacuums worldwide; it has had accelerated growth over the past three years," said Christian Cerda, chief operating officer of iRobot, the US-based manufacturer of consumer robots, adding that China is the fastest-growing market and the fourth-largest region for the company.

iRobot launched a floor mopper tailor-made for the China market in 2016 and established a commercial team at a Shanghai office to directly manage sales, marketing and after sales service, in order to be more responsive to the local market, said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of the company, in an email sent to China Daily.

Angle said the company is mainly focusing on the premium segment, "We've been the leader in the over RMB 3,000 ($477) premium robotic vacuuming cleaner market."

He added that the floor mopper is most successful in Asian countries where hard floors are common. Currently, it brings in about 10 percent of iRobot's total revenue globally. Wet floor care products account for about 40 percent of sales in China.

"The growth in China is led by some Chinese competitors," Cerda said. "Share-wise the largest is Ecovacs, and we have seen recently some entrances to the market with competitors like Xiaomi.

"Compared to the robot market worldwide, the Chinese market has a lower price point and has a very large segment of the market with very basic and affordable robot vacuums.

"China as a country has put a lot of emphasize on the development of AI, and we are seeing a lot of activities in this area," Cerda said, indicating that the Made in China 2025 initiative would also help companies in China succeed. "We welcome it, and we think this is good for robotics development worldwide, and we're happy to see this sector growing and developing in China."

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