Xiaomi just announced a set-top box which gives away TV series and movies to clients for free streaming. And it is said that the set-top box has much to do with Duokan, the reading app maker Xiaomi acquired lately. Or put it directly, Xiaomi Box was actually developed by Duokan.

Don’t be surprised. Though most of its offerings are just apps, Duokan, the Beijing-based startup is experienced with hardware development.

Founded in 2010 with Leijun and Xu Xiaoping, founder of ZhenFund and a well-respected Chinese angel, sitting on its board, Duokan earned its early fame by making 3rd party reading app for Amazon Kindle in China. In May 2012, DuoKan received US$ 10 million from Leijun.

Prior to the Xiaomi Box, Duokan had already launched an app for Apple TV. With the app named Duokan for Apple TV, you can stream free videos provided by iQiyi, Sohu Video and Youku, just like how Xiaomi Box works.

DuoKan is now an arm of Xiaomi after the acquisition.

Xiaomi co-founder Li WanQiang explained the mindset behind the set-topbox, saying that, “Xiaomi won’t make tablets with Apple and so many big guys playing the game. But for TV set-top box, it is a relatively niche market, even Apple TV the third generation sold less than 10 million. So we don’t really have very high expectation on the Box. For us the new gadget is just a supporting player, an extension of our smartphone business”.

Is this true, or he’s just toning it down to get ready for a surprise hit for some potential rivals?