Alibaba announced the long-rumored custom Android system for TV and a set-top box, Wasu Rainbow, today, with the latter going on sale in two to three months. It partners with Wasu Media, one of the several state-authorized content providers, to stream online videos onto Smart TV screens. As to the Smart TV sets, manufacturers including Skyworth and Changhong have been on board to make TVs with the system.

Alipay, Alibaba’s payments service, has been integrated into it that users currently can make orders from Juhuasuan, its group-buying service, from such an Alibaba TV. But Taobao and Tmall haven’t been available yet. Just like all other Android-powered Smart TVs, Alibaba’s includes an app market and allows displaying content from smartphones.

While Chinese players are still fighting on the battlefield of smartphone — Alibaba is also working on it with third-party manufacturing partners, the TV screen is the next they are moving to.

The search query “Internet set-top box” returns thousands of results on Taobao. While most look just like box, some are as small as and shaped like a ordinary USB drive. They are all powered by Android, and can display any content on the Web or in an Android device. The average are priced at from merely 100 yuan to several hundred yuan.

Among them well-known brand names include LeTVXiaomiPPTV. LeTV has launched a Smart TV, called Super TV though, claiming it has sold 10 thousand pieces last month. Xiaomi is likely to launch one soon too.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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