All those rumbling rumors were correct. Today, China’s top search engine launched a smart TV equipped with its own self-developed smart TV OS. Baidu’s (NASDAQ:BIDU) TV – actually manufactured by TCL (HKG:1070; SHE:000100) – is now selling for RMB 4,567 ($740).
Baidu has a Hulu-esque video streaming site of its own in the form of iQiyi. That was boosted this summer when Baidu forked out $370 million to acquire PPS, a similar kind of video service. Unsurprisingly, Baidu’s new smart TV OS comes with its video offerings baked in.
The first Baidu smart TV – properly called the TCL L48A71 – has a 48-inch screen. A cheaper model from TCL will hit stores in November for just RMB 2,999 ($485), presumably with a smaller screen. Other models from different manufacturers will follow.
Baidu and TCL have partnered with local e-commerce store Jingdong to sell the smart TV online (see it here).
Growing number of smart TV rivals
Baidu is up against a strong list of rival web companies who have launched or are developing a smart TV OS – there’s Xiaomi’s set-top box, LeTV’s box and smart TVs, and Alibaba is working on a smart TV OS of its own too. And that’s to say nothing of rival platforms from manufacturers like Samsung.
Baidu’s smart TV offerings have the advantage – especially over Alibaba and Xiaomi – of having its own, well-known video sites stuffed into them.
It seems that smartphones and smart TVs are the biggest battlegrounds for Chinese tech companies trying to keep hold of their middle/upper-income users.
(Editing by Paul Bischoff)