Laptop and smartphone maker Lenovo launched today a project for smart hardware, named New Business Development (NewBD, or NBD), in Beijing. Instead of developing smart hardware products in house, Lenovo chooses to invest in startups or cooperate with them.

The products by those startups will be sold on the NewBD site, with Alipay available for payments (The company says more payment solutions will be added). Lenovo will help them with software/hardware development, sales and marketing and customer service.

Sounds familiar? Yes, it takes a similar approach as that with JD.com and Alibaba. Lenovo’s advantages must be 1) it has established channels for selling consumer electronics products, and 2) it does know something about hardware production and distribution. In contrast, JD has a powerful online store that it has become one of the first Chinese consumers would visit whenever they want to buy smart hardware products. JD also launched a crowdfunding site very recently.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com