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TP-Link Wants to Be a Cooler, More Connected Company

When you think of TP-Link — if you think of the hardware maker at all — you probably think about routers. But the company wants to move beyond its networking roots to reflect the changing nature of exactly what we're connecting to our home networks.

TP-Link's upcoming SR20 Smart Home Router

TP-Link's upcoming SR20 Smart Home Router

"The future of of TP-Link is not just a networking company," TP-Link chairman and co-founder Jeffrey Chao told me through an interpreter when we met in San Francisco earlier this month. "We're a lifestyle company."

That's the goal behind a rebranding campaign the Chinese-based company is announcing today. That means a new logo for TP-Link — the T and the P in the company's name have become an arrow and a circle to represent what Chao describes as a move toward a more customer-centric focus — as well as new product packaging a different color scheme. What it doesn't mean is new products — at least not yet. A spokesperson told us that TP-Link would soon announce a line of smart lightbulbs for the U.S., expanding its line of smart home products that already include plugs and cameras.

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And that explains why this 20-year-old networking company is so eager to change its image in the U.S. According to Chao, the products people are connecting to their home are expanding beyond just smartphones and tablets to include appliances and other connected  home devices.

TP-Link has other motivations for expanding its appeal. While the company enjoys a leading marketshare worldwide, Chao concedes that its U.S. market share is considerably smaller. Broadening what TP-Link offers U.S. customers can help expand its presence in this country.

Expanding its product line to include smart bulbs in addition to routers and extenders isn't exactly out of left field for TP-Link. At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, TP-Link showed off its SR20 Smart Home Router, which is aimed at provide network connectivity while also serving as a hub for smart home devices. Chao said the router, which will include built-in support for ZigBee and Z-Wave devices, should ship before the end of 2016.