Baidu Inc. (BIDU:US), the owner of China’s most-popular Internet search engine, will start selling smart TVs with TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings Ltd. (1070) to compete with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in the growing online video business.
Baidu and TCL’s 48-inch TV will go on sale online today at 4,567 yuan ($746), the companies said in a joint statement ahead of a news conference in Beijing yesterday. A second model priced at 2,999 yuan will go on sale in November. The devices will be sold through 360Buy Jingdong Inc.’s e-commerce platform offering content from Baidu unit IQiyi.com, they said.
The search-engine operator is expanding its online video business to boost its share of a market that consultant IResearch estimates may generate 16.2 billion yuan in revenue next year. The Beijing-based company is competing for users with Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, which said in July it had designed a smart TV operating system and set-top box.
“IQiyi can provide the content, TCL has the manufacture know-how, Jingdong can provide e-commerce services on the TV,” Eric Qiu, an analyst at Guosen Securities Co. in Hong Kong, said by phone. “It’s another access point for Baidu to win more users as companies like Alibaba are also developing their own smart TVs.”
Nasdaq-listed Baidu bought Internet video business PPStream Inc. in June for $370 million and has been combining it with IQiyi.com, which it acquired last year, to create China’s largest online video platform.
Robin Li, chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu, said in April that the company preferred to expand through acquisitions as it tries to navigate a shift from desktops to mobile. More than 464 million people in China accessed the Internet from mobile devices by the end of June, according to the China Internet Network Information Center website. That’s more than the population of any other country except India.
The company last month agreed to buy a 59 percent stake in e-commerce website operator Nuomi Holdings Inc. for about $160 million. In July, Baidu said it would spend about $1.85 billion to buy 91 Wireless Websoft Ltd., its largest announced acquisition (BIDU:US).
Baidu rose 0.5 percent to close at $136.17 in U.S. trading yesterday. The stock has climbed 36 percent this year, compared with a 20 percent increase in the Nasdaq Composite Index. (CCMP)
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