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Four-Year-Old, Temasek-Backed Rokid is Changing its Business Mode
COVID-19 and China

Rokid (若琪), a Chinese AI company known for its voice assistant and AR glasses smart devices, announced its new plan to build an AI OS called YodaOS in the company’s four-year anniversary celebration on October 15, 2018. ZHU Mingming (祝铭明), founder and CEO of Rokid, said AI industry will soon enter into severe cold winter and in the next 12 to 18 months, and there will be no hope to rebound soon.

“So, under the circumstance, Rokid will get back to product-centric, and gain new energy by continuous product innovations. YodaOS will be our goal to meet the challenges of the future”.

This is not the first time Rokid proposed a new development plan. Founded in October 2014, its first product Rokid Alien debuted in February 2016, and the second product Rokid Pebble released in May 2017. Alien and Pebble are voice assistants much like Amazon Echo/ Alexa and Google Home. 

Rokid debuted its new product line Rokid AR Glass and a project called Rokid Full Stack Open Platform at 2018 CES in January 2018. Rokid Glass aimed the consumer market competes, more or less competes with HoloLens and Magic Leap, both were very hot and capital chasing at that moment. 

Rokid raised USD 100 million B+ round investment, which was led by Temasek in January 2018, other investors including Credit Suisse, CDIB Capital International, and IDG Capital. One of the investors told EqualOcean that the value of Rokid reached more than CNY 3 billion (about USD 432 million) after the financing.

In June 2018, Rokid Glass was officially unveiled, along with the new generation of voice assistant Rokid Me and Kamino 18, an AI-chip that could support smart speakers and children’s storytelling devices. 

WANG Shunde (王舜德), the CFO and co-founder of Rokid, interviewed by the South China Morning Post in June, had said that the decision to produce AI chipsets came up because that the technology was moving from the era of mobile internet to artificial intelligence. Televisions, toys, in-car infotainment systems, healthcare, and smart speakers were among those that were interested in using Rokid’s technology. 

“Even as the company pushes into services, Rokid will continue to maintain a product line for gaining user feedback”, WANG added. 

The market of smart voice assistant is gradually entering the outbreak stage.  6.3 million units of Amazon Echo was sold, and 5.9 million units of Google Home was sold in Q3 of 2018, according to data given by the UK-based market research firm Canalys. In China, 2.2 million units of TmallGenie was sold, 1.9 million units of Xiaomi's voice assistant Xiao AI was sold in Q3 of 2018.

Rokid has more than 20 offline stores in 11 provinces and several online channels to sell its products. On Rokid’s official JD.com store, Rokid Pebble and Rokid Me only have 5 comments each, though with 100% positive feedback. Rokid’s store on Tmall sold 102 units of Rokid Pebble and 240 units of Rokid Me in the past month. 

Rokid is changing its business mode from selling smart devices for consumer to providing smart services for business. YodaOS will be one of Rokid’s most important new directions. Rokid now has more than 400 employees and expect to secure six to eight partners in the year of 2018.

——Author: YuanPu; write to YuanPu at YuanPu@EqualOcean.com

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