Chinese e-commerce company develops smart home ecosystem to tie products together

JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce company, is going after the connected device market by building an open ecosystem that allows products from different manufacturers to work together.

If that sounds familiar, that's because other efforts are underway to do a similar thing. The first pieces of hardware for Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) HomeKit smart home offering are expected to be released in June. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has its Nest Labs subsidiary for connecting thermostats and other appliances, as well as participation in the Thread Group, of which Nest is a founding member. Samsung recently unveiled its Artik Internet of Things (IoT) framework.

"What differentiates JD's smart ecosystem from others is our knowledge of electronics devices and we can provide a big user data base to help the connected device makers better understand the user demand," Eric Wang, JD.com's smart group president, told The Wall Street Journal at the Consumer Electronics Show Asia in Shanghai.

The company's smart ecosystem helps startups and hardware companies to build more connected devices by offering incubator- and accelerator-type support to guide them, along with distribution, supply-chain and cloud-computing services, according to the WSJ.

JD.com used CES Asia to announce a couple new smart products to its open ecosystem initiative. The DingDong Smart Speaker is a voice-controlled device that can pull news, weather and about 3 million songs and 4 million hours of audio content from third-party sources and play them through a speaker system. It can also be used to set up alarms, calendars and other planning tools--all through voice commands. The DingDong speaker is the first product developed by JD.com's joint venture with iFLYTEK.  

The other new device is Changhong's EleCloud Wireless Smart Rechargeable Storage Device, which is an external charger for mobile devices that integrates the functionalities of wireless sharing and a high speed flash drive, allowing users to share documents, music and videos simultaneously with up to more than 30 people.

According to the company, JD Smart's ecosystem provides users a convenient single point of control over connected smart devices from participating manufacturers through its JD+ super app, called "Jingdong Weilian" in Chinese, to allow full voice control of all products in the JD+ ecosystem.

"We've created an ecosystem that allows products from different manufacturers to work together on a seamless smart platform, JD Smart is able to bypass the 'pain point' created when a user's devices can't talk to each other," said Leslie Liu, JD Smart's CTO, in a press release. "The DingDong Smart Speaker leverages the Weilian app we have developed to seamlessly integrate into customers' smart home networks with a single voice command center, avoiding the 'bottleneck' of closed platforms."

Currently the JD+ industry partner program includes more than 100 manufacturers, including Haier, Hisense, Midea, TCL, Joyoung and Fotile, with a total of more than 400 JD Smart-enabled products. JD Smart supports its partner companies through multiple development stages, including providing incubators, accelerators, technological support, go-to-market solutions, supply chain and cloud computing services, as well as access to JD.com's base of consumers.

For more:
- see this WSJ story
- see this release

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Google-backed Thread Group racks up new members to work on Internet of Things
AT&T, Apple, Google and more: Companies to watch in the Internet of Things

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