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 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.

Xiaomi, the rising star in smart mobile & home device manufacturing, has adopted a similar approach, too. It has invested companies producing Xiaomi portable battery pack and the newly launched fitness band, and is selling them on its website where all the Xiaomi products are sold.

At the launch event today Lenovo unveiled four products, two smart glasses, a connected air purifier and a smart WiFi router. While Lenovo is a global company, it seems the smart hardware project is targeting at China market.

Both the two smart glasses, developed by the US-based Vuzix and Chinese company Ceyes (or Yunshizhitong), respectively, will be loaded with Chinese-language operating systems and apps.

The air purifier is produced by German company Luftmed and the smart WiFi router is by a Chinese startup XCloud. Air purifier is much in demand in nowadays China that many Chinese are concerned about air pollution, and the WiFi router is the newly emerged category that is considered a hub for controlling all the smart home devices.

Tracey Xiang

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

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