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New business 'cycle' for LeTV with smart bikes

By, edited by Lin Min 12 Aug 2015

The sports affiliate of Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp (LeTV) unveiled a smart bike on Tuesday, a move it hopes will increase its presence in the promising domestic sports industry.

LeTV Sports launched three smart models of the bike under the brand name of "Buzzard".

The bikes use a self-developed operating system called Bike OS, which enables riders to track their motion, listen to music and automatically lock or unlock the bike via apps.

Under a partnership signed in April, the products are manufactured by Tianjin-based Flying Pigeon, a venerable State-owned bicycle company founded in 1936. These days, Flying Pigeon mainly makes modern mountain or city bikes.

LeTV Sports will develop other smart devices such as cameras, drones and wearable sports gadgets, CEO Lei Zhenjian said at a press conference.

The smart bikes, costing from 3,999 yuan ($632.2) to 39,999 yuan, will be available for preorder from Wednesday.

But Zhang Qing, CEO of Beijing Key-Solution Sports Consulting Co, said the bicycles may not be well received by Chinese consumers, who mostly prefer models priced below 3,000 yuan.

Diversification into hardware is a part of a broader business model for LeTV Sports, which aims to have an ecosystem including sports event management, content streaming platforms, sports-related smart device development and value-added services such as sports lotteries and online game distribution, according to a press release sent to the Global Times by LeTV Sports.

That ecosystem "can't be developed successfully unless the 1-year-old LeTV Sports can cultivate a large, loyal user base," He Wenyi, executive director of the China Institute for Sports Value at Peking University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Smart devices such as bikes can increase the loyalty of users on LeTV's online platforms, but if the company expects to attract more users, building up a base of high-quality online content must be the top priority, said He.

In May, LeTV Sports raised 800 million yuan to acquire more sports broadcasting rights and develop sports-related businesses.

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