It looks like everyone jumped the gun on this one. Xiaomi has temporarily suspended for its new Internet TV box that was publicly released for testing two weeks ago, presumably because they have not received approval from the SARFT (State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television), China’s agency in charge of monitoring the traditional broadcasting industry.
The traditional TV industry has already felt the burn as more and more Chinese users have been streaming and watching their favorite programs online. Xiaomi has indicated its interest to sell their Apple TV-like product next month, however they seem to be running afoul of regulators, who see Xiaomi as a potential threat to their oversight of the industry.
Originally an Internet company, Xiaomi has since become a popular phone producer in China. The company frequently follows Apple’s marketing model, and many users call their Mi-One and Mi-2 phones “Chinese iPhones”. Their low price-point and regular operating system updates make the phones a significant bargain for smartphone users in China. This is why I think Apple should consider a budget phone before its too late.
The set-top boxes are apparently still moving ahead with at a price of 399 RMB ($65). However, without approval from SARFT, Xiaomi runs the risk of losing its ability to stream online video content with the new device, which was the entire reason for the product to exist.
My bet is that there will be a compromise made in order to get the licensing. This is a political power game to make sure Xiaomi knows who is boss.