A couple weeks ago we passed along an interesting rumor that Xiaomi, the company that more or less started the cheap-but-powerful Android phone trend in China, has been working on an Apple TV-like set-top box product. Xiaomi, of course, isn't commenting on this one way or the other, but the rumors have just gotten a bit more specific: the device will cost 299 RMB ($47), Xiaomi has already signed contracts with a few partners for content, and the device will hit the market or at least be announced next month.
It's all still just rumors, of course, but reporters at Investor China found that a number of potential partner tech companies weren't willing to do interviews, and insiders at several places have dropped hints that the reason is a Xiaomi set-top box that will be announced in mid-November.
Given that Xiaomi continues to no-comment rather than outright deny this, it's starting to feel like one of those rumors that's actually true. If Xiaomi is making a set-top box it will be interesting to see whether the company attempts to sell it like it sells its mobile handsets -- in small batches at a time, through its own website -- or whether it will take a more traditional approach this time around.
It will be also interesting to see whether Xiaomi fans take the bait. If the 299 RMB price is accurate, it's easy to see lots of dedicated fans snatching this up as soon as they can. But whether the device actually delivers will probably determine whether or not it can expand beyond Xiaomi's existing fanbase. Even Apple has had trouble in this sector, so a Xiaomi success would be truly impressive; an example of a company many see as aping Apple beating it at its own game.
But of course, that's all a little premature given that we're not sure the device even exists. Until we know, you'll just have to get by with your imaginations and my crudely-photoshopped Apple TV expertly-crafted mockup of what the device might look like (pictured above).[Investor China via Sina Tech]
Chinaccelerator Graduates 2012 Batch of 8 Killer Startups
Wuhan Father Searches for Missing, Game-Addicted Son
There Are More Than 50,000 Government Accounts on Sina Weibo