Most people who have heard the name Mobvoi will probably associate the company with its TicWatch range of smartwatches, which have earned a reputation for great quality at a reasonable price, but there’s much more to this innovative consumer electronics business.
Founded in Beijing, China, in 2012, the company name “Mobvoi” is a portmanteau of the words “mobile voice” which hints at the organization’s origins as a developer of mobile voice search technology, which was used in the popular Chinese social media app, WeChat.
It wasn’t until 2015 that Mobvoi first released a smartwatch based on Google’s WearOS platform for wearable technology. Named “TicWatch” the product became hugely successful in China, before spawning a range of more advanced models over the years which become highly competitive in western markets too.
Building on its success in smartwatches, Mobvoi followed up with a range of Bluetooth headphones with smart features like voice and gesture control and active noise cancelling; the in-ear style TicPod range, and the over-ear TicKasa. Other products from Mobvoi include an intelligent home treadmill, outdoor security camera, which are available in western markets.
The company offers a wider range of products in its home market, including smart-car applications, fitness bands and smart-speakers, as well as some smartwatches and headphones which it does not sell internationally. In 2017 Mobvoi partnered with Volkswagen to include its voice assistant technology in cars sold in the Chinese market.
Outside of China, Mobvoi’s TicWatch range is sold with the standard version of WearOS, while in its domestic market the products use a modified version of the platform tailored for Chinese users.
The company was founded by:
- Zhifei Li, a research scientist with a PhD from John Hopkins University in natural language processing, machine translation, and machine learning. He formerly worked at both Google and Microsoft.
- Yuanyuan Li, with a degree in software engineering and a masters in information management.
During its growth, Mobvoi has undergone five funding rounds with investors including leading US venture capital firm, Sequoia, and Google, as well as various other investment and technology companies. During its early growth many of its products were developed using crowdfunding, to gauge public appetite for the devices before manufacturing began. The company is currently valued at over $1billion.
While consumers are most likely to associate Mobvoi with its range of consumer electronics products, the company is more broadly focused on artificial intelligence and natural language processing in particular, which has a wide range of business applications. The mixed focus of wearable tech and natural language processing makes sense when you consider that voice activated assistants are most useful when embedded into products like smartwatches, headphones or in-car systems, where voice is really the best (sometimes only) way for users to communicate with those devices.
While the brand name might not be as recognisable as some of the bigger and more established consumer tech players, Mobvoi is fast carving out a reputation as a manufacturer of innovative, high quality, and great value products. We started this site because we’re genuine fans of the company, having purchased several of its devices, and we want to help people who are considering a Mobvoi product and want to know whether they’re making a good decision.