Xiaomi Box halts beta test and may delay launch

2012-11-27 00:19:32 GMT2012-11-27 08:19:32(Beijing Time)  SINA English

Xiaomi Technology, a growing Chinese smartphone producer, may postpone its launch of Xiaomi Box, a TV-set-top box (STB) for streaming media to televisions, given that the beta version of Xiaomi Box is under media watchdog investigation, according to the domestic news portal sina.com Friday.

The company unveiled the STB a week ago. But it announced it would stop providing online media service from Friday to 600 users participating in a Xiaomi Box beta test that began on November 16, and pledged to refund participants' deposits before Wednesday and give each a brand-new Xiaomi Box when it becomes available on the domestic market, Liu Fei, brand marketing manager of Xiaomi, told the Global Times Sunday.

Xiaomi said the service would be halted because the first phase of testing was complete.

But it refused to comment on sina.com's speculation that the real reason may be that Xiaomi Box violates regulations of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) by enabling users to watch videos from online video sites like pptv.com.

According to the SARFT, domestic STB producers must cooperate with any of the current seven licensed online TV content providers - including BesTV, Wasu Media and CCTV's online video subsidiary CNTV - so as to provide online media services legally, meaning Xiaomi could only stream content from these seven providers.

"We have been seeking opportunities for close cooperation with licensed online TV content providers according to the country's policies, in an attempt to launch a new round of testing," Liu said.

This cooperation would leave Xiaomi Box with no competitive edge in terms of content, as some of the seven licensed providers also produce their own STBs, Yan Xiaojia, an analyst from Analysys International, told the Global Times Sunday.

Yan predicted that Xiaomi Box may not arrive on the market in 2012.

In July, BesTV launched its own STB.

Domestic STB producers also have to buy online content in large amounts, which may barely be offset by selling devices, resulting in increasing costs for launching Xiaomi Box, Yan said.

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