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Chinese retailer creates set top box for TV e-commerce access

29 July 2013 - 14:59 by Mike Price

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A growing number of British consumers will have invested in a smart TV over the past couple of years. This particular device category has expanded significantly as more and more people want to get web-based functionality in their living room without having to pile more set top boxes and cables beneath it.

TVs from manufacturers including Samsung now come with their own user interface and apps, giving users the ability to stream video, play games and even chat via VoIP services.

However, it is also possible to carry out safe shopping online via a smart TV, thanks to the built-in web browsers that these often support, although the experience is hardly ideal, given the limitations of the main input device, which is still the remote control.

Chinese retail giant, Alibaba, is attempting to make safe shopping online from a TV even more common than it is at the moment, by launching its own set top box.

With its own operating system based on Linux, this gadget can be connected to a network connection and then do everything that other smart TVs can do, but with the benefit of having enhanced e-commerce capabilities.

Users will be able to quickly search for and purchase products that are available through Alibaba's e-commerce network, according to TechWorld.

At first, Alibaba is planning to make only a limited number of products available through this smart TV platform, although eventually it should expand beyond the initial group offerings, to broaden the horizon for consumers in the countries that it covers.

The box is apparently less significant than the operating system that it runs and Alibaba is in the process of trying to sell this software to third party manufacturers, including the aforementioned Samsung, to make it available internationally.