ZTE's Android gaming system aims for big sales, with low price

ZTE's Fun Box will go on sale in China in April

A user trying out ZTE's new Fun Box product.

A user trying out ZTE's new Fun Box product.

Chinese handset maker ZTE is diving into China's home gaming market with a new Android entertainment console that it is pricing at 689 yuan (US$112) in the hope of undercutting products from Microsoft and Sony.

Called the Fun Box, the set-top box will go on sale in China on April 10, and can play over 200 Android games, in addition to streaming TV shows and movies.

The Fun Box could become the first of many lower-end game consoles set to hit China, after the nation recently lifted a 13-year-old ban on video game systems.

Huawei Technologies is also releasing an Android console in the second quarter, and electronics maker TCL is promising its own system that will deliver an experience on par with Microsoft's Xbox.

The devices are coming as the makers of more expensive gaming systems such as Microsoft and Sony remain quiet on their plans for China's video game market.

Analysts, however, expect domestic electronics makers such as ZTE will try and sidestep their foreign rivals by selling Android consoles at far lower prices. In contrast, Microsoft's new Xbox One has a starting price of $499.

In ZTE's case, the company is stopping short of calling the Fun Box a traditional console. But ZTE is confident the product can make a splash in the Chinese market, by leveraging its growing game collection and its graphic capabilities.

To build the Fun Box and gain developer support, ZTE set up a joint venture with local gaming firm The9. On Wednesday, the two companies unveiled the product with the backing of over a dozen developers including U.S.-based Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive.

The Fun Box is also built with Nvidia's latest Tegra 4 mobile chip, and uses a quad-core 1.8 GHz processor. ZTE and The9 Intend to keep the product's price low, and hope to make revenue through its value-added services.

The companies have enough confidence in the product that they want Fun Box sales to reach at least 3 million units this year. ZTE's and The9's joint venture also hopes to expand outside of China, and into other key markets, executives said on Wednesday, without elaborating.

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