Chinese phone maker Tanssion makes the phones its customers want, it doesn’t try to sell them on the phones it has. For developed markets, Transsion (which sells phones under the Tecno brand, and others) put two SIM-card slots on its phone, because many of its customers switch back and forth between services to get the best rates in different places. It also optimized its phones’ cameras for the darker skin tones predominant in its markets. Liza Lin and Dan Strumpf explain this type of marketing.
That kind of thinking partly explains how Chinese manufacturers managed to snare more than 40% of the global smartphone market in the first quarter of 2017, double what they had five years ago, according to industry researcher IDC. Meanwhile, Samsung’s and Apple’s share of the global market has begun to slip, down 3.5% last year.
The other answer can be found in the Pearl River Delta, China’s southern tech corridor. With few exceptions, notably Beijing-based Xiaomi Corp., most of the more than 20 Chinese smartphone makers are there, a region rich in the technical know-how and manufacturing infrastructure.
Shenzhen is home to Huawei Technologies Co., ZTE Corp. and Transsion. BBK Electronics Corp., the parent owner of the popular Oppo and Vivo smartphone makers, and TCL Corp. are both less than 60 miles to the north.
It is a volatile market, as shown by Xiaomi’s fall from the No. 1 Chinese phone maker in 2015 to the No. 5 position last year. The fight is all about staying competitive in pricing and features, and Shenzhen is the battleground.
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