Chinese smartphones make their mark as sales soar on
HONG KONG, July 11 — While the headlines this week are concentrating on Apple’s growing share of what is now officially the largest smartphone market in the world, what’s being lost in all the fanfare is the growing influence one particular home-grown brand is having across China.
A report from US investment managers Needham & Company suggests that in the first quarter of 2012 there were 33.1 million smartphones sold in China — a rise of 164 per cent — compared to 25 million sold in the United States.
Meanwhile, Apple’s share of those riches amounts now to some 17.3 per cent of the market, up from 9.9 per cent in 2011.
But a local company is out there trying to make sure that everything does not go the way of the American giant.
One of the hottest local smartphones on the Chinese market is the Xiaomi, which was first released last December in a limited edition of 100,000 — and which sold out in three hours, according to the company. The same trick was then tried over the ensuing two months, with the same result.
Xiaomi — which has a mouthless rabbit named Mi Tu as its mascot — has so far this year sold an estimated three million units and expects to shift five million by year’s end.
With an Andriod-based operating system, users claim it might be less stable for use than Apple’s iPhone but by retailing at just 1,999 yuan (RM1,000) compared to the iPhone 4S at 4,988 yuan, Chinese consumers are willing to put up with a little pain.
Xiaomi has also taken a leaf out of the Apple book by engaging consumers with not only that silent little rabbit but with a range of merchandise, carnivals and “experience centres” where punters can test drive the devices.
There’s also a cheaper “youth” phone, for 1,499 yuan, which has less memory than the high-end model and is therefore slower.
China currently has an estimated one billion mobile phone users and it seems that Chinese companies are now lining up to get in for their share of this ever-growing market.
While the likes of the Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo brands are already major players in China, consumers are readying themselves for the rollout of smartphones from the likes of Alibaba — more commonly known for operating China’s major B2B trading portal — NetEase, Baidu and 360. — AFP/Relaxnews