Alibaba Cloud Computing (AliCloud) has signed agreements with two Chinese technology companies, Guangdong Telecom and ZECO, to allow them to use AliCloud’s operating system, the YunOS, in their consumer-facing devices.
The AliCloud agreements with Guangdong Telecom, a unit of China Telecom, and ZECO, a consumer hardware company firm, will see the YunOS integrated into Guangdong Telecom’s Internet TV set top boxes and the Zeco CX6 home projector model. The cooperation agreements come as Alibaba Group, the parent company of AliCloud, intensifies efforts to break into the content and media space through investments and strategic alliances.
This year alone, Alibaba Group has invested or agreed to invest, billions into leading Chinese online video Youku Tudou and Hong Kong-listed movie production company ChinaVision. Alibaba also signed an Internet TV cooperation agreement with Wasu Media Holding and launched a digital entertainment business last year.
The flurry of investments into media companies and tie-ups with hardware manufacturers are an indication of Alibaba Group’s ambition to create a content-driven “smart TV” ecosystem in China. A key differentiating factor of the YunOS when compared to other operating systems powering set top boxes is that it allows users of the different devices to shop on Alibaba Group’s e-commerce websites like Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com, effectively bringing e-commerce to the living room.
Last September, Alibaba Group started selling television set top boxes that allowed users to watch thousands of television programs from Wasu Media and online video companies like Youku Tudou as well as allowing them to shop online.
Guangdong Telecom aims to get the YunOS-powered Internet TV boxes into one million households by the end of the year, said an AliCloud press release. Guangdong Telecom currently serves 20 million broadband users in the southern Chinese province of which four million subscribe to the IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) service.
While the television set top boxes are designed to be connected to the television, AliCloud’s tie up with ZECO that will integrate the YunOS with a home projector, allowing for a movie theatre viewing experience that does away with the television and set top box.
The ‘smart’ home projector will allow users to play games, access online educational resources and watch online movie and television shows with just one device, said an AliCloud press release. It will retail for RMB 5688 ($911) and the first batch has already sold out.