Even with the platforms of Sun Zhengyi, Ma Yun, and Guo Taiming, this robot is still in a quagmire
OFweekrobotinternet News The humanoid emotional robot Pepper (meaning “pepper”), once full of halo and high hopes by Japan’s Softbank, is dragging the development and sales company behind it into a loss-making quagmire.
According to a report by the Nikkei on July 12, Soft Bank Robotics Holdings Corp (hereinafter referred to as SBRH), a subsidiary of Japan’s SoftBank Group, which develops and sells Pepper, fell into insolvency at the end of March 2017. The company continued to lose money as the profit margins for humanoid Robots were not high enough to offset research and development expenses, the report said.
The above-mentioned Japanese media reported that SoftBank Group’s 2016 fiscal year (as of March 2017) marketable securities report submitted to the Kanto Finance Bureau of the Ministry of Finance showed that the company’s debt exceeded 31.4 billion yen (approximately RMB 1.88 billion). Yuan). Although the results have not been announced, according to Tokyo Shoko Research, the company’s operating income in fiscal year 2015 was 2.2 billion yen, with a net loss of 11.7 billion yen (about 700 million yuan), a high loss. 2.3 billion yen in fiscal 2014.
Right now, SoftBank is providing sales support and financial assistance to the robotics holding company.
Pepper “was born with a golden key in his mouth”, which once triggered a sales boom
Backed by Softbank Group, Pepper, who is 1.2 meters tall and can interact with people in natural language, can be described as “born with a golden key in his mouth”. He once made Jack Ma (Weibo), Guo Taiming and Masayoshi Son to be their platforms at the same time, which was once triggered in the Japanese market. Sales boom.
In early 2012, SoftBank acquired French robotics company Aldebaran, and based on this, established the group’s robotics holding subsidiary SBRH. In June 2015, SBRH launched the “world’s first emotional robot” Pepper, and joined hands with Foxconn to start the co-production of humanoid robots. In June 2015, Alibaba and Foxconn invested 14.5 billion yen (about 730 million yuan) into the SBRH strategy, respectively, to promote the development and application of Pepper worldwide.
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Pepper’s host price is 198,000 yen (about 11,800 yuan). Since June 2015, SBRH has started to sell a limited number of 1,000 Peppers per month. By the end of the year, the 1,000 Peppers sold through Softbank’s official website every month were sold out within 1 minute after the sale. Since January 2016, in addition to the official website, Pepper has been sold in SoftBank Shop, about 100 physical stores under SoftBank, and the production capacity of its Foxconn base in Yantai, Shandong has increased from 5 units per hour to 15 units per hour.
At the same time, SoftBank has shifted its focus to the commercial service market. The Pepper Enterprise Edition has been available for reservation since October 2015, and signed a 3-year contract in the form of leasing with companies that intend to hire Pepper: 3-year $16,000 (approximately RMB 108,000) Yuan).
According to data disclosed by SoftBank in the first half of this year, more than 10,000 Pepper robots have started to work around the world, including Pizza Huts in Singapore, cruise ships and Japanese homes.
Criticized for lack of intelligence
In fact, after the sale of Pepper, Japanese media have expressed many doubts about its market prospects. Although Softbank claims to be ready to reduce prices through mass production, for enterprises and ordinary households, the price of each 200,000 yen How big is the robot market? And, how to build a successful business model?
In addition, the conflict of corporate culture and the lack of intelligence of the robot itself have become a key stumbling block for SoftBank’s Pepper promotion plan.
According to Bloomberg, French Aldebaran employees accustomed to a flat work model do not fit well with SoftBank’s corporate culture. And the business manager who oversees the development of SBRH speaks neither English nor French. In addition, SoftBank has out