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Ailing LeEco Will Layoff 325 U.S. Employees

May 23, 2017, 1:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LeEco today said it will largely erase its corporate presence in the U.S. as it refocuses its efforts here. The company, which exists as the YouTube/Netflix of China, first announced plans enter the U.S. market at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2016. It followed nine moths later with a splashy October 2016 press conference launching phones, TVs, and connected bicycles — all of which were to be sold online directly to consumers. The company expanded too swiftly, ran into cash problems, and scaled back plans earlier this year. "While we’ve made progress in growing our distribution channels, the challenges with raising new capital have made it difficult in the past few months to support all of our business’ priorities," said the company in a statement. Thanks to the cash crunch, LeEco cannot support its U.S. employees and will let up to 70%, or about 325, go. "Our goal is to continue to gain momentum. In the past few months, we have gained a large foothold in Chinese-speaking households in the U.S. by offering tailor-made products and content for this community. We believe this provides us an opportunity to build on our strengths and grow from there." LeEco didn't explicitly say which products it will continue to offer U.S. consumers, nor how swiftly its U.S.-based employees will be let go. Just yesterday, the company's founder stepped down from his CEO role at one of LeEco's major business units.

LeEco Founder Steps Away from CEO Role

May 22, 2017, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Jia Yueting, who founded China's LeEco, is cutting back on his responsibilities in order to help the company better focus on products. Specifically, Jia has stepped down as the CEO of Leshi, LeEco's main business unit. He remains the chairman and CEO of LeEco. Leshi is the part of the company that provides internet and video services in China. It is the core of the firm. LeEco later spread to TVs, smartphones, electric cars, and other connected products. These businesses sapped LeEco's finances and caused a cash crunch that eventually saw LeEco scale back its expansion plans. Former Lenovo executive Liang Jun will take Jia's place at the helm of Leshi. At the same time, Leshi's CFO, Yang Linjie, will be replaced by Zhang Wei. Jia gave the change a positive spin, suggesting that he'll be able to provide the proper amount of guidance to the business units he now governs. LeEco sold several phones directly to U.S. consumers online, including Le Pro3.

LeEco Scraps Vizio Acquisition

Apr 10, 2017, 12:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LeEco today said it has canceled plans to acquire TV-maker Vizio. The company first announced the $2 billion acquisition last summer. "The merger agreement to acquire Vizio will not proceed due to regulatory headwinds," said the company in a prepared statement. "We continue to believe that there is great synergy between the two companies, and are pleased to announce that LeEco and Vizio have reached an agreement that is a win for both companies." Moving forward, Vizio has agreed to add LeEco's video apps and content to its own smart television sets. After quickly ramping up several major businesses, including TVs and smartphones, LeEco ran into cash problems and has since scaled back some of its plans. The company continues to offer the unlocked Le Pro3 and S3 to U.S. consumers online.

LeEco Scores More U.S. Retail Partners

Mar 10, 2017, 12:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LeEco today said U.S. consumers will be able to find its products at more stores around the country. Specifically, an expanded number of Best Buy stores plan to add LeEco smartphones over the next few months. The same is also true of BrandsMart USA, which will stock LeEco phones both in stores and online. LeEco said HSN and Fry's will carry more of its ecotvs. The two main handsets LeEco sells to U.S. consumers are the Le Pro3 and Le S3. The phones are sold unlocked and are compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile.

LeEco EUI Update Adds App Drawer to Le Pro3 and Le S3

Feb 23, 2017, 3:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LeEco today gave its Le Pro3 and Le S3 smartphones an app drawer. The company is pushing the latest build of its Ecosystem User Interface to the Le Pro3 and Le S3, and the update includes a handful of new features. Based on user feedback, LeEco decided to install an app drawer on the home screen, which allows ecophone owners to find and access all their apps in a single space. The app drawer has been added to the dock at the bottom of the screen just above the home button. Both devices also receive a boost in camera performance. The Le Pro3 gains faster HDR capturing and processing, while the S3 gains improvements in low-light photography. LeEco also tweaked fingerprint sensor feedback, added parental controls, streamlined the Live app interface, improved Bluetooth reliability, and increased WiFi speeds (S3 only). LeEco says the update will be made available to ecophone users over the next few days.

LeEco Selling the Pro3 and S3 Through Target

Jan 11, 2017, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LeEco has struck a distribution deal with Target and is now selling its Pro3 (pictured) and S3 handsets via Target's web site. The two phones are available online for $400 and $250, respectively, and are sold unlocked. They support GSM/LTE networks such as those operated by AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. LeEco is trying to expand from its home market of China into the U.S. Its handsets went on sale via LeEco's own web site late last year. The new distribution agreement with Target, even though limited to Target's web site, means LeEco's phones will seen by more U.S. consumers over time. Both the Pro3 and S3 feature solid hardware and specifications, and run highly customized versions of Android.

Hands-On with the LeEco S3

Nov 9, 2016, 3:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LeEco's S3 smartphone is one of two handsets the Chinese company hopes will entice US buyers to take a chance on the brand. The S3 combines a metal chassis and mid-range specs with lots of video software to make for an affordable content-consumption machine. Here are our first impressions.

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LeEco Details the LePro3 with Snapdragon 821

Oct 19, 2016, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 19, 2016, 2:58 PM

LeEco today announced the LePro3 smartphone, an Android-based flagship that includes the Snapdragon 821 processor and a 4,070mAh battery. LeEco says the large power cell provides 33 hours of talk time or up to 49 hours o media playback. The battery supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 for rapid charging, and it can ingest a 33% charge in 20 minutes. Other specs include 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage; 5.5-inch full HD display; stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos; 16-megapixel main camera with 4K video capture and 8-megapixel front camera; and fingerprint sensor. The LePro3 is made from brushed aluminum and boasts 2D, curved glass. It will be available in gray and gold. The LePro3 costs $399. It will be available online from LeMall starting Nov. 2.

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