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Router maker TP-Link turns its attention to smart homes

Will the Chinese company's fresh new look and products attract US shoppers?
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Although it is a market leader in the global networking industry, TP-Link has struggled to make an impression in the US. The company is banking on a major makeover and a new product portfolio to help wow its American audience and improve its standing in the Netgear-dominated US market. I spoke at length with TP-Link's amiable CEO and co-founder Jeffrey Chao about his ambitious plans for the States.

Most interestingly, TP-Link is pivoting its product offerings towards the smart home market. It already offers smart switches and smart plugs, which Chao and his team are very proud of. "Our smart plug ranked number one in Amazon's home improvement category," said Chao. He also recommended I check out the company's Kasa smart home control app, which he said was rated 4.5 stars on iTunes.

TP-Link also has a smart light bulb on the horizon, as well as a slew of interesting integrations in the works that it declined to publicly discuss at the moment.

Since the company's arrival in the US in 2008, it has become the fastest growing brand in the American networking space, garnering 12.5 percent of the market share, said Chao. But that's not enough. "We want more," said Chao in Mandarin (which I'm fluent in and have translated). "We feel like American consumers don't really understand our brand."

To fix that, TP-Link is investing pretty heavily. Not only has it redone its logo, the company is also opening product management and branding arms in the US. These departments will focus on developing a product roadmap that targets American consumers' needs. "America is the most creative country in the world," Chao said. "We want to hire local creative talents as our product managers to help us lead in the US market."

The new TP-Link logo features a T-shaped arrow pointing towards a circle (which also forms the letter P), which the company says indicates its "commitment to a customer-centric culture that align with the needs of today's modern customer." The revamped look will debut on the company's website, social media channels, product packaging and in-store displays starting today. You'll also see a new slogan and set of commercials soon.

Whether the new makeover and portfolio can help TP-Link win over American shoppers is unclear, but the company's ability to play nice with US regulators recently is a step in the right direction.

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