'Chinese Netflix' takes on tech titans in US

LeEco showed off smartphones, televisions, bicycles, self-driving electric cars and a virtual reality headset

Afp October 20, 2016
LeEco CEO and founder YT Jia, R, and co-founder and Global Vice Chairman Lei Ding pose in front of a LeSEE car. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO: A Chinese internet colossus referred to as a combination of Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Tesla announced Wednesday it is taking on US tech titans on their home turf.

LeEco showed off smartphones, televisions, bicycles, self-driving electric cars and a virtual reality headset along with a platform to connect all its offerings to movies, television shows, services and more in the internet cloud.

"We have blazed a new path in the internet content domain," LeEco founder and chief executive Jia Yueting said during a press event at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

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"This is the first time we will be able to achieve this in America."

Jia outlined a plan to win hearts and minds in the key North America market before moving to woo the rest of the world in the LeEco ecosystem.

He noted that some have told him "LeEco is crazy to come to the backyard" of companies such as Apple, Google, Netflix, Tesla and Amazon, but that he was confident it would succeed.

LeEco will launch two smartphones,  flagship LePro 3 and its 'little brother' Le S3, in the US on November 2 priced at $399 and $249 respectively.

On the same day, a line of Super4 X Series ultra high-definition televisions will make their US debut at prices beginning at $649 and topping out at $4,999 for a uMax85 that measures 85 inches diagonally.

The smartphones and televisions will be sold at the company's LeMall.com e-commerce website, and have software integrating the hardware with the LeEco cloud platform for services and content such as on-demand television.

LeEco promised enticing bargains during a "flash sale" at LeMall on November 2, out to make a splash in the market and get people using its Netflix-style subscription service for online content.

The company also displayed a virtual reality headset and its Super Bike packed with sensors, locks and other technology powered by Google-back Android software.

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A new LeEco concept car that was being used in London for the filming of a new "Transformers" film being directed by Michael Bay was rushed to San Francisco for the event.

No plans were revealed for releasing LeEco bicycles, cars or virtual reality gear in North America.

"It might seem that we have released a lot of seemingly unrelated products, but it is the opposite," Jia said.

"We have given these products the same nervous system to share content."

He maintained that LeEco wasn't coming to North America to challenge US technology giants, but to "create an entirely new generation of products" that are interconnected on the company's cloud computing platform.


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