Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi unveiled its Android set-top box late last year, but the device has yet to go on sale because of licensing difficulties. The company overcame the hurdle on Monday with the signing of a three-year strategic partnership agreement with the iCNTV network.
iCNTV, a subsidiary of China Network Television, leads the corporation’s Internet TV efforts and has agreements with prominent TV makers including LG, TCL and Hisense.
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The agreement will allow Xiaomi to launch a new version of its Xiaomi Box that will be closely integrated with iCNTV’s platform, including an electronic program guide and billing system. The company says it has now been approved to operate in the TV industry sector and will pilot the box in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Changsha.
Reports emerged last week that Xiaomi was set to receive regulatory approval from the Start Administration of Radio, Film and Television with the help of a third-party agreement. These kinds of cross-industry partnerships are common because Chinese law has strict permitting requirements for different industry sectors.
Xiaomi’s lack of a TV operator or broadcast license was believed to be causing the delay. The Xiaomi Box was originally scheduled for release last December. Some reports have suggested that the set-top box could go on sale as soon as early February in order to arrive in time for Chinese New Year, which takes place in mid-February this year. Arriving before the holiday would be a significant move, as the year’s biggest TV event is usually the New Year’s Gala program.
Xiaomi built up its brand with its affordable Android smartphones, but its ultimate aim is a well-rounded ecommerce ecosystem that would span across phones and set-top boxes.
The startup raised a $216 million funding round last year and was valued at roughly $4 billion at the time. It sold over 7 million handsets last year. Xiaomi recently announced a partnership with Southeast Asian social networking startup Mface to bring its MiTalk messaging app overseas.
Image credit: Xiaomi