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China's Hisense bakes Teams into Android-powered commercial displays

Sees collaborationware as its route into foreign markets

Would you be happy staging a Teams-powered videoconference on a hefty Android-powered touchscreen commercial display?

Chinese appliance giant Hisense is betting you will be – today it announced a deal with Microsoft China to make that sort of thing possible.

Hisense makes tellies, audio kit, kitchen and laundry appliances, air conditioners, and even smartphones, and has won business outside China with a combination of keen prices and blanket advertising of global sporting events.

The company also operates a commercial display business that's been harder to spot outside China.

But a Monday announcement from Microsoft China suggests the commercial display business aspires to expand its overseas operations.

The announcement reveals that Hisense will bake Microsoft's Teams collaborationware service into its WR series interactive touch screens – Android powered machines sold in 65,75, and 86-inch models.

The devices can also access Azure Communication Services (ACS), Microsoft's cloudy APIs that make it possible to add voice, video, chat, text messaging/SMS, email and other comms services to applications.

That raises the prospect of the WR series devices running custom collaboration apps in scenarios like self-service kiosks.

Microsoft's announcement states that this is the software behemoth's first Teams-related collaboration on Android in China, and that the partners both see their work together as advancing the cause of Teams and/or ACS on Android across the globe.

Machine translation of Microsoft's announcement features Ray Guo, overseas director of Hisense Commercial Display, stating the collaboration will "help Hisense continuously enhance its influence, brand power and competitiveness in the global market and on the world stage."

Ma Yue, Microsoft's vice president for Greater China and general manager of its Solutions Division, is quoted as saying the tie-up will "provide more high-quality Chinese products and technologies for the global commercial display field."

All of which adds up to Microsoft using Teams to give Hisense's commercial displays division a helping hand to crack new markets, while also giving Android a bigger role in its own ecosystem.

The latter is not unusual for Satya Nadella's Microsoft, which does not have the same hostility to operating systems other than Windows that it demonstrated under previous management. But, given Western discomfort with Chinese tech companies, baking Teams into Chinese products aimed at business use – and possibly sensitive commercial conversations – is a trickier sell. ®

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