You may have heard that a mechanical keyboard from China has been a success on Indiegogo.
The keyboard is so special that it has a cyberpunk design, a programmable RGB array of 200 LED, CNC-machined 6063 aluminum alloy frame encapsulate, Bluetooth 5.0 and wireless charging.
But what you don’t know is that it comes from Angry Miao, a brand new digitally native brand in China. The keyboard is just a starting point for the company’s big plans.
The company held its first press conference on August 26, 2020, at which it revealed its ambition to inject fashion into the consumer electronics industry.
A press conference on the theme of cyberpunk
At this launch, Angry Miao released four products and announced three joint series.
First of all, the protagonist of the press conference is the keyboard “CYBERBOARD” that has been successful on Indiegogo.
This is an extremely luxurious mechanical keyboard with a completely cyberpunk theme and state-of-the-art hardware performance.
At the press conference, Li Nan, the company’s founder, repeatedly mentioned that the design of the keyboard was inspired by Tesla’s CyberTrunk. If you look at the keyboard from a certain angle, you will find that it has a metallic texture and geometric lines similar to those of CyberTrunk. In addition, it is the world’s first keyboard to support wireless charging, it does not have a charging prot and does not need to replace the battery.
But unlike CyberTrunk, it has a vivid LED matrix. Users can customize the graphics and animation displayed in this matrix, and can share and download designs through the website provided by the company.
This keyboard does not include keyboard switch and keycap, and users need to buy it separately. They have designed a CYBERSWITCH to fit the keyboard, with a green + purple translucent style, and its click sound is said to have been specially optimized.
In terms of keycaps, they also offer two joint keycaps, the “Back to the Future” theme keycap with BUGER WORK, and the “Time Machine” metal keycap with ZOMO Plus, which has a built-in YRB tricolor Tritium lighting.
Besides the keyboard, Angry Miao’s second product at the launch is an extremely luxurious “mouse pad”. To some extent, it can no longer be called a mouse pad.
Its size is 900mm x 340mm x 9.1mm and is made of aluminum alloy integrated molding technology. It has 15 built-in wireless charging coils, supports 45W wireless fast charging, and supports up to 6 devices charging at the same time.
In the scenario envisioned by Angry Miao, you would put this super charger called CYBERMAT in front of your computer. CYBERBOARD, your phone, Apple Watch and mouse are all on top, so you don’t have to worry about charging anymore.
According to this logic, the next product of, Angry Miao seems to be the mouse. But their next product is actually a mouse accessory called CYBERCOIN.
CYBERCOIN can replace the charging module in Logitech’s G-series mouse that supports wireless charging to support wireless charging in the Qi protocol. In other words, if you have a Logitech G pro wireless mouse, you can use CYBERCOIN to charge on the CYBERBOARD.
The last product at the launch was True Wireless Stereo called CYBERBLADE. This product has a triangular design and cyberpunk-style lighting effects, inspired by the classic sci-fi movie Blade Runner. Details have not been released and are not expected to go on sale until December.
Almost all of the above products are limited products, of which CYBERBOARD was sold out before the launch. The company has also released a blockchain service to track the sales and secondary sales of all limited items to ensure that they can be called collectibles in addition to being used.
In addition to its own products, Angry Miao also announced several products co-branded with other companys. They are designer toys and T-shirts with Angry Miao’s Logo, and a 90W gallium nitride phone charger in the style of cyberpunk.
If you watch the video of this launch, you will realize that this is a completely different launch from the normal consumer electronics company. The popular element is no longer a supporting role in this conference, but has replaced the introduction of various parameters and practical functions to become the protagonist.
This is directly related to the personal style of Li Nan, the founder of the company.
Who is Li Nan?
If you know a little about smartphone brands in China, you may have heard of Li Nan, the founder of Angry Miao. He is a former senior manager of Meizu, a well-known Chinese smartphone brand.
Unlike Chinese smartphone legends such as Lei Jun, Ren Zhengfei and Duan Yongping, Li Nan is almost never a businessman.
Before becoming an executive at Meizu, Li Nan was best known as the lead writer of ifanr.com, a Chinese technology blog. He continues to pay attention to the design and interaction details of Apple and other phones, and writes very detailed professional reviews on ifanr.
These comments stem from his love for the consumer electronics industry and his early work experience. Early in his career, he worked as a system architect for online ERP systems at NEC in Japan. After leaving NEC, he worked for a while as a game product manager at Monstar-Lab, a Japanese social game company.
These early work experiences have enabled him to have a better understanding of consumer electronics supply chain and internet product design than ordinary people.
The articles it wrote in ifanr attracted the attention of Huang Zhang, founder of Meizu. Huang invited Li to become one of the senior professional managers of Meizu in 2012.
Meizu is a veteran consumer electronics manufacturer in China. In its early years, Meizu was famous for producing Mp4 products.
Eighteen months after the launch of the first generation of iPhone, Meizu released the Meizu M8, a phone that completely mimics the first generation of iPhone, which was developed from scratch using the WinCE kernel and has a higher iOS similarity and user experience than all earlier Android phones.
Although imitating iPhone is a dishonorable thing, it shows Meizu’s extremely strong R & D ability in both hardware and software. At the same time, Android phones ( such as HTC G1) are still in an “almost unusable” state.
Meizu phones in 2012 abandoned the early system developed by WinCE in favor of the increasingly popular Android system. In order to compete with other smartphone manufacturers that also use Android, Meizu has been trying to make major changes in the user interface.
Li Nan initially worked as Internet business director at Meizu and was later promoted to CMO of Meizu. Subsequently, it is also in charge of Meizu’s all-new sub-brand Meilan. Although he was not directly responsible for the development of hardware or software products in Meizu, he was a bridge between the company and all users at that time.
He created a separate technology blog called BigTech for Meizu, which not only spreads Meizu’s PR works, but also comments on high-quality innovation in the entire industry. In the process, he personally became friends with almost all consumer electronics industry practitioners in China, even if they worked with Meizu’s competitors.
He even served as a commentator at the 2015 Apple Autumn launch broadcast on NetEase News of Technology Channel.
In other words, he didn’t give up as a technology blogger after joining a company. This is extremely rare in modern enterprises all over the world. Because of this, he understands the changes in market and consumption habits better than the marketing director in other enterprises.
In 2019, many great changes have taken place in the consumption habits of the Chinese market. As China’s Generation Z starts to work after graduation, the new money is lavish on luxury goods and fashion label.
They stir up designer toys, designer clothes and limited sneakers to more than several times the price and turn them from consumer goods into collectibles. In the face of those products with the same function, consumers begin to pursue a very extreme personalized and fashionable consumption experience.
Li Nan saw this and left Meizu to start Angry Miao.
Gadgets is still in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution
Li Nan repeatedly mentioned that in the future, subculture will become the “mainstream culture” in the consumer electronics market.
For Generation Z born after internet, gadgets is not only a functional product, but also an expression of personality. This trend has been validated in other consumer goods and is about to occur in the consumer electronics industry.
It’s hard to believe that in a society where the clothing industry is highly developed, but everyone wears clothes like the quick-dry clothes in sci-fi movies, simply because they have the best performance.
But in the field of gadgets, we are at such a strange stage.
Since Apple released iPhone in 2008, the design style represented by simple solid color rounded rectangle has swept the whole consumer electronics industry. The strange appearance of mobile phones that appeared at the beginning of the 21st century has disappeared from market, replaced by those that cannot distinguish between brand and model after blocking Logo.
This trend is not limited to mobile phones, where people use the same Macbook or Windows laptops that mimic the Macbook style. Using a nondescript keyboard and a minimalist mouse. Not to mention the tech stuffs such as chargers, headphones and mouse pads. We seem to be slipping into a sci-fi world where writers don’t bother to make rich settings.
Li Nan said that he had been involved in the production of smartphones used by hundreds of millions of people at Meizu. But in fact, for him personally, he hates these mass consumer market products. Because these products are only looking for the optimal solution of the design, and the design should not have the optimal solution.
To some extent, this is a disregard of the demand for segmentation of the consumer electronics market, which is essentially due to the fact that the level of human economic and technological development is not enough to support that everyone can have fully personalized electronic products.
Imagine the early clothing industry, where large, clumsy machines could only be programmed at first to produce a single variety of fabric. Although the clothes made by those machines are very strong and cheap, their style is very monotonous. Our electronic products are in such an era.
In fact, Angry Miao is not going to be a company that focuses on producing cyberpunk-themed gadgets, and their main product may not always be keyboards.
At the press conference, Li Nan explained their goal: to link with 12 different subcultural symbols within 3 years and launch different products related to each subculture.
The cyberpunk theme is only the first one they have chosen. Their next wave of products release will be related to the ancient Chinese book Shan Hai Jing. This is a catalogue of monsters written in the Qin Dynasty, which later influenced all the fairy tales in East Asia.
Unlike other technology companies that launch limited editions of certain subcultural elements when launching major products. All Angry Miao products incorporate specific cultural symbols into the design language. Angry Miao may be the first fashion-driven consumer electronics company in China. Therefore, the company’s slogan is “Make Art Not Tech”.
Li Nan also talked about the supply chain in detail.
Personalized production and production costs always seem to be inversely related. If you want to sell more personalized goods to consumers, it means that the smaller your production of each item, and for smaller batch production, the factory tends to quote a higher unit price.
Apple tried this strategy on Apple Watch, but it eventually turned the line into a luxury and gradually disappeared from the product line.
This is also the reason why the price of the first wave of Angry Miao products is much higher than that of similar practical products. But Li Nan doesn’t want to turn Angry Miao into a technology luxury brand.
He said that the future of China’s manufacturing industry is not to produce cheap goods in large quantities, but to produce any goods on a cheap, small-scale and personalized scale. Having worked for many years at the third-largest smartphone maker in China, he thinks it’s difficult, but it’s achievable. He hopes to accelerate the process.
He also believes that the era in which the entire industry was defined by a great designer like Steve Jobs is passing, and the design of all products in the future will be community-driven. Countless innovations and good designs will come from the inspiration of the crowd.
His confidence is reasonable. Because in Shenzhen, all hardware products are updated on a weekly basis.