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Cisco partners with Chinese appliance maker

Networking gear mainstay signs a deal with the Haier Group to develop products for the home.

Cisco Systems will partner with one of China's largest appliance makers to develop networking gear for homes, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Cisco and the Haier Group said in a statement that they will share best practices in management, strategic investment and construction in an effort to build home networking systems. Specific details of how the companies will do this weren't provided.

The Haier Group has been expanding into international markets for the past couple of years. And CEO Zhang Ruimin said the company will look to Cisco to help it expand its brand overseas.

"We believe it is necessary to take advantage of Cisco's business practices as a model for efficient international expansion, particularly in areas like customer service that rely heavily on networked information technology," he said in a press release.

Haier's products include refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, televisions, water heaters, personal computers, mobile phones and kitchen appliances, according to the company's Web site.

For Cisco, a relationship with the Haier Group provides ties to a huge manufacturer in one of the largest consumer markets in the world. China has the world's largest TV audience with about 400 million viewers. It's also got the second largest Internet audience, second only behind the United States.

Other large tech companies have also been forming partnerships in China. In June, Microsoft announced a partnership with a Chinese television maker, Changhong Electric. The two companies will develop digital entertainment products.