Baidu, the Internet giant that operates China’s largest search engine, has launched its own smart TV to compete with rival platforms from Alibaba, as well as other companies including Xiaomi, Samsung and Apple.
Called TV+, Baidu’s first smart TV will be manufactured by Chinese electronics maker TCL Multimedia and feature content from iQiyi, Baidu’s online video platform.
Baidu plans to merge iQiyi with online video provider PPS, which it purchased for about $370 million in May. The combination will create China’s largest online video provider, unseating Youku-Tudou, and giving TV+ an edge in terms of content. In addition to on-demand video, TV+ will also feature free access to movies and TV series.
TV+ competes with a rival smart TV OS and set-top box by Alibaba, which was unveiled in July. Alibaba’s smart TV takes advantage of the company’s e-commerce and online payment assets such as Tmall, Taobao and Alipay by allowing users to shop and pay bills via their televisions. Called Wasu Rainbow, Alibaba’s smart TV also has an app store for video games and access to its Xiami music streaming service.
Smartphone maker Xiaomi, recently in the international spotlight after hiring former Google exec Hugo Barra, also plans to market its own smart TV OS and devices aggressively.
The smart TV platforms of Baidu, Alibaba and Xiaomi will compete with products from Samsung and Apple for the living rooms of China’s affluent Internet users. According to a GfK study published in August 2012, China has the highest usage of smart TVs, at 44 percent penetration. Comparatively, the US and UK are at just 11 percent, which was attributed in part to the prevalence of legacy TVs in the more developed markets.