Moji, aka MoWeather, is one of the most popular weather apps in China, claiming approximately 200 million installs. The app is for free to download and use, making some pocket money through ad banners. The addition of scenery photo sharing feature added some fun to the app, but it cannot be comparable with categories like mobile messaging app in terms of popularity or monetization.
Until today, as the company behind it is launching Airnut, a pair of smart weather stations.
One is an indoor environmental quality (IEQ) detector that is able to tell indoor air quality metrics or turn on connected home appliances such as air purifier or smart air conditioners when pollution levels are high. As Chinese consumers have become much concerned about air pollution, a lot of Chinese companies, traditional home appliance manufacturers or newly emerged smart device makers, have built air quality monitors or connected smart home devices that can interact with those monitors. Haier, a leading home appliance brand in China, have launched a whole set of smart electronics products and mobile apps for indoor air quality detection and improvement.
What’s more interesting and can be revolutionary is Airnut mini outdoor weather station. A professional weather station manufacturer in Shenzhen, China, where most smart gadgets around the world are being made, helped the company downsize the conventional large-size weather station to a palm-sized bowl. The rubber sucker at the rear has strong suction power that enables the bowl to stick to a variety of surfaces.
MoWeather has managed to have the outdoor stations placed at places such as the Great Wall in China and Eiffel Tower in Paris. Tourists thus can check out the weather condition before visiting the Great Wall or other attractions to see whether umbrella or sunglasses is needed.
The gadget retails for RMB999 (a little more than $160). MoWeather doesn’t only expect attraction operators to buy the station but also merchants such as coffee shops and restaurants whose businesses count on customer traffic. MoWeather reckons the real-time sharing of weather information and photos of their stores taken by MoWeather users will engage customers in a brand new way.
Chinese mobile app developers are flocking to Shenzhen to build smart hardware products. It’s not only because technologies such WiFi solutions are much advanced but also that it may be a way for them to monetize their users who never paid a penny to them. Moji has been paying the national weather bureau for weather data and other services while the banner ads cannot be a significant revenue source.
It is believed in China that, although users are not willing to pay for mobile apps, they are spending money on hardware products, such as smartphone and game consoles. In the past several years, Chinese families were buying all kinds of home electronics. It’s very likely they’d buy another one for air quality home. If the Airnut outdoor station manages to convince a large number of merchants, it’ll be a whole new product line Moji can make profit from in the long term.