It’s hard to imagine life before 2002 when the Segway standing scooter thing hit the scene completely revolutionized the way we get about, just like everyone predicted it would.
Its staggering success has made it an American institution. Like many of you, I have fond memories of making out with that special someone in the back of my Segway at the Segway-in movies during those hot summer nights.
But now, the vehicle we have all welcomed into our lives is entering a new chapter having been bought out by Beijing-based Ninebot Inc. I guess we won’t be able to use the old cliché “it’s as American as a Segway” anymore.
Ninebot was established in 2012 and also produces balance controlled wheeled devices very similar to the Segway that’s no doubt resting comfortably in the corner of your home as you read this. However, after generating US$80 million in funds from backers including Beijing smartphone company Xiaomi, they have taken over the brand that had once inspired them.
In their announcement on 15 April, Ninebot said they hoped to use the expertise of Segway to further their own engineering advancements. Segway reportedly holds around 400 patents involving the mobility machines that gave rise to the beloved International Segway Polo Association.
It’s hard to say what Ninebot’s endgame is with this acquisition, perhaps they simply want a lock over the lucrative “tour group” and “mall security” markets. Or maybe it was just a matter of national pride as we will all now have to begin saying “it’s as Chinese as a Segway” instead… Admittedly it is a lot catchier that way.
Source: Asahi Shimbun Digital (Japanese), Bloomberg Business (English)
Top Image: Wikipedia – toooooool
Inset Image: Wikipedia – Kiwachi Okuhata