TikTok owner ByteDance enters the big-screen OS market through new collaboration with TV maker Konka

ByteDance, owner of global hit short-form video app TikTok, on Monday unveiled a collaboration with Shenzhen-based electronics giant Konka Group Co that showcases a new smart TV series powered by the MEyou operating system. of the Chinese technological unicorn.

Co-developed with Konka, MEyou OS marks ByteDance’s first foray into the widescreen operating software market, offering a platform with more intuitive search function, support for gesture control, and the ability to Simultaneously display content from multiple devices on a single TV. .

For example, a family can watch a drama or sports program, while shopping online on the margin via a split screen. One family member can even play a video game on the TV, while another watches yoga exercises.

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MEyou OS is expected to help revive the relevance of large TV screens at a time when smartphones, tablets and personal computer screens have gained more attention due to people’s increased need to work and study from home. as part of precautions against Covid-19, according to Zou Wei, director of ByteDance’s Smartisan OS unit.

The Smartisan unit hoped to “bring a new upgrade experience to the smart TV ecosystem”, while showing consumers and the wider market “the team’s innovation in the field of smart TV”. , Zou said during the product launch live on Monday.

Shenzhen-based Konka Group Co offers TV models powered by MEyou OS as part of its Aphea series of smart TVs. Photo: Shutterstock alt=Shenzhen-based Konka Group Co offers TV models powered by MEyou OS as part of its Aphea smart TV series. Photo: Shutterstock>

Konka, which also uses Android and webOS on its other TV models, opened for pre-order its MEyou OS-powered Aphea A6 Pro TVs in 65-inch, 75-inch, 86-inch and 98-inch screen sizes, which were introduced on Monday. These models cost between 9,999 yuan ($1,569) and 39,999 yuan, according to Zhu Zhongqing, Konka’s China sales manager, in a statement on Monday.

The ByteDance collaboration also comes at a time when Konka, once China’s largest TV maker from 2003 to 2007, continues to struggle in a highly competitive domestic TV market, where annual demand has been steadily declining.

Overall TV sales in China, the industry’s biggest market, fell 13.8% from 2020 last year to 38 million units, the lowest volume in 12 years, according to Beijing-based research firm All View Cloud.

Konka, a Shenzhen-listed company that also manufactures and sells refrigerators and other home appliances, earned 7.3 billion yuan in sales from its TV business, less than half of that year’s sales. unit in 2014, according to the company’s 2021 annual report. TV sales accounted for just 15% of Konka’s total revenue last year.

Huawei Technologies Co has pushed its own operating system, HarmonyOS 2.0, to various Chinese consumer electronics brands. Photo: Shutterstock alt=Huawei Technologies Co has pushed its own operating system, HarmonyOS 2.0, to various Chinese consumer electronics brands. Photo: Shutterstock>

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MEyou OS pits ByteDance against Huawei Technologies Co, which introduced its own operating system, HarmonyOS 2.0, about 10 months ago for use in various devices, including smartwatches, smart TVs, smart home appliances, and computers. ‘other gadgets equipped with sensors connected to the Internet and interact with mobile applications.

ByteDance’s new operating system also showed that its decision in 2019 to acquire a set of patents from Smartisan Technology and hire a number of its employees could start to pay off.

In July 2019, the company initially struck a deal with heavily indebted Android handset maker Smartisan, founded by entrepreneur Luo Yonghao, to develop new smartphones. This plan was later put on hold by ByteDance, so it could launch another program focused on educational hardware and software products with former Smartisan CTO Wu Dezhou.

Earlier in 2017, Smartisan bundled a mobile operating system for a smartphone made by Konka, but that handset never took off. Smartisan hasn’t launched another smartphone model since October 2020.

Privately held ByteDance, which embarked on a sweeping corporate restructuring last November, has continued to take calculated steps to ensure it does not deviate from its business goals and the tightened regulatory regime. of Beijing, while exploring potentially important areas for expansion.

ByteDance recently bolstered the management of its Pico Interactive subsidiary, doubling the startup’s potential as a major VR headset provider on the continent. This followed a new collaboration with US semiconductor giant Qualcomm.

The company was valued at $350 billion, according to the latest Hurun Global Unicorn Index released by Shanghai’s Hurun Research Institute in December. Total 2021 revenue hit $58 billion, up 70% from a year earlier, according to a Reuters report. Its 2020 revenue, on the other hand, rose 111% to $34.3 billion.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice journal on China and Asia for over a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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