LeTV, the Chinese online video and smart TV company, is reportedly developing smartphones as the company have poaches executives from major Chinese smartphone makers including Meizu, Xiaomi and Lenovo.
What has been confirmed is two former vice presidents at Meizu have joined LeTV (via Yude). It is rumored that LeTV reached out to Meizu after the latter finally decided to raise funding earlier this year. A dozen of Chinese companies, from Internet giants to traditional electronics manufacturers, showed interest in investing in Meizu then. But, as reported, Meizu hasn’t reached any deal with anyone so far.
For whom that don’t know much about Meizu, the smartphone manufacturer was one of the earliest Chinese Android smartphone makers, and one of the few that design and produce phones in house. Meizu founder has been so angry with Lei Jun, CEO and co-founder of Xiaomi, the rising star in China’s smartphone market, claiming Xiaomi stole his company’s business secrets as Mr. Lei once visited him offering to invest in Meizu several years ago.
The two former Meizu execs were responsible for phone design, including hardware and the customized Android system, and marketing when they were with the company. They also brought LeTV several more staffs from Meizu. So it is estimated LeTV won’t feel very difficult in developing an Android phone.
Since it launched its first Smart TV, Xiaomi, previously as a smartphone and set-top box maker, has become LeTV’s competitor. It seems making smart TV for Xiaomi isn’t so easy. The company announced yesterday to postpone the delivery of the first batch of the second-gen smart TVs, launched earlier this month, to July, two months later. While Xiaomi quickly gained a market share in smartphone market with the strategy of selling high-spec, low-cost phones online, currently it cannot beat Chinese smart TV makers like LeTV with that — LeTV offers equally high or even higher specs and lower prices, and also sell online.
Smart TV also needs content and applications. Xiaomi partners with Xunlei, a video download and streaming service, to provide its smart TVs and set-top boxes with digital content. But LeTV, starting as an online video site, has exclusive content and a video production business. Xiaomi extended MIUI, a custom Android system in-house developed, to Xiaomi TVs; LeTV has also developed LeTV UI, a customized Android system, for its smart TVs — now it has Meizu guys to develop one or make modifications on the existing one for phones.
It is expected the LeTV phone will be launched in August or September.