Qihoo, the Chinese tech giant best known for its antivirus software, has launched its own mini wireless router, indicating an interest in branching out into hardware.
Users can insert the USB device into any laptop with a wireless internet connection to create a network that mobile devices can access, thereby allowing for easy transfers of files without the need for cable connections.
News of the device’s launch was first disclosed to Sina Tech by a Qihoo insider (hat tip Tech in Asia), and later confirmed when Qihoo stated on its website it would start accepting pre-orders from customers. The device will retail for 19.9 yuan (about $3) and is available in black and white.
The move comes at a time when Qihoo and other Chinese firms are starting to tread on the turf of their competitors as they seek to expand their portfolios.
The company launched a search engine in August 2012, effectively pitting it against Baidu in the search space. While the latter remains the undisputed leader at the moment, Qihoo hopes its search platform will capture 10% of the market annually. Baidu, meanwhile, announced last spring it would launch its own anti-virus software, which, coincidentally, sees its official release today.
The wireless router marks Qihoo’s second foray into hardware, the first being a mobile phone. That device was launched in July of 2012, and according to Sina Tech‘s piece, fizzled soon after.
A wireless router is considerably less ambitious than a smartphone but highly practical. With that in mind, if the launch is successful, Qihoo could find new footing in the hardware space.
Qihoo reported a decline in annual net profit for Q1, with earnings shrinking from $14.1 million during the previous year to $5.6 million. Despite this, the company experienced a 58.6% in revenue for the same time period, indicating that it’s in a strong position to continue investing in R&D.
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