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Silicon Valley beware! China’s LeEco is selling smart devices in your backyard

Jia Yueting, Founder and CEO of Chinese tech giant LeEco, sent a letter to his colleagues in North America,  declaring that his company is going to set up a frontier in the North American market in three months to sell their smartphones, televisions and electric vehicles (EV).

“A decade ago, a great company, Apple, opened an era of mobile internet. But its business model can no longer represent the needs of the internet in the future. So we are here,” said Jia in the letter.

Jia Yueting is founder and CEO of LeEco. (Photo from NetEase)

Apple’s iPhone has been used by almost all Chinese smartphone makers as the top rival. LeEco is more than a smartphone maker, but what may enable it to be a possible challenger of Apple?

LeEco’s name may provide an answer. “Eco” can be interpreted as an ecosystem, which more and more Chinese tech and internet companies aim to become.

Formerly known as China’s “Netflix”, LeEco started with online video streaming in 2004, when it was called “LeTV”. Now its tentacles have reached to areas including internet, cloud, virtual reality (VR), sports, smartphones, TV, Electric Vehicles (EV), and online financing.

The letter mentioned that LeEco spent half a year building a team to make smart vehicles in America in 2014. The company built its North American headquarters in Silicon Valley in April 2016. Jia also said that his company has purchased a 50-acre site in the core area of Silicon Valley, where it plans to build its global headquarters.

LeEco launched its first smartphone in April 2015. According to a report by market research company Sino Market Research, LeEco ranked third in terms of smartphones sold online in May 2016 at 1.42 million, following Xiaomi’s 2.8 million and Huawei Honor’s 1.48 million.

“We are ready to confront giants like Apple, Amazon and Tesla here. Overturning the status quo only happens when 99% people don’t think it will,” said Jia.

(Top photo from baidu images)

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