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Alibaba Branches Into Television

The e-commerce company has developed a smart TV operating system that will allow consumers to shop and pay bills.

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ALIBABA'S TV PLANS: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group is venturing into the world of Internet TV. The company has developed a smart TV operating system that will allow consumers to shop and pay bills via their television sets. The Hangzhou-based Alibaba has also developed a set-top box that will incorporate the new software. Alibaba owns China's largest e-commerce platforms, Tmall.com and Taobao.com.

Alibaba developed the set-top box, which will be released in the next few months, in partnership with Wasu Media, a digital media company that was one of the first to receive an Internet TV license from the Chinese government. Wasu Media has more than 8 million registered users of its Internet TV services, according to the company.

Users of Alibaba Smart TV OS will be able to order products from Juhuasuan, a group shopping website, and pay via Alipay, Alibaba's online payment service. In addition, subscribers will be able to stream videos and photos from mobile phones to TVs.  Tmall and Taobao will not be available when the product is launched, the companies said.

Alibaba has been aggressively expanding into other sectors. In 2011, the company launched its own mobile operating system to compete with Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platforms. It also partnered with Wasu to create a Taobao shopping channel, which the company later abandoned. In May, Alibaba announced it had bought an 18 percent stake in Sina Corp.'s Weibo, considered China's answer to Twitter, for $586 million in stock as part of a plan to launch a social commerce initiative.