Business / Technology

China's mobile manufacturers quickly catching up with big names

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-11 10:03

Beijing - As technological advancement temporarily slows down in today's telecom scene, China's local mobile manufacturers are quickly catching up with the industrial big names, market trends suggest.

China's leading indigenous smartphone company Huawei produced 17.3 percent of devices sold in China in May, according to stats by Counterpoint Research. Taking the next three spots are Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi, all of them local brands as well. Apple, now dropping to the 5th, trails behind with a share of only 10.8 percent.

Just three years ago, Samsung was still the No.1 mobile vendor in China, commanding as much as 18.8 percent of the market. The ever-popular Apple has managed to secure a spot in the top two until as late as early 2015. Things changed in 2014 as the native brands, probably finally done with biding their time, entered the scene with a blast led by Xiaomi. The soar of Xiaomi that year didn't end even after taking the lead in the domestic market; it also became the 5th largest overall in the world, as if to declare to the world that China is striving to become more than the "World's factory".

Stats last year from tech industry researcher Strategy Analytics put Huawei and Xiaomi comfortably in the leading spots, while Samsung's name is nowhere to be found in the top five. Indigenous Chinese brands constitute eight of the top 10, compared to a mere four in 2011.

Financial services group Canaccord Genuity published a set of data in 2015 showing the global market share of Samsung and Apple at 23.9 and 17.2 percent respectively. Commentators at International Business Times have pointed out that growing Chinese brands tend to enter the scene with low-end budget models and gradually climb up the hierarchy.

"Most [up-and-coming manufacturers] were all low-brow versions of the Samsung Galaxy or the iPhone," notes Forbes in a column, "But companies like Xiaomi and Huawei in particular have made big leaps in quality and are winning over local buyers."

Xiang Ligang, analyst and founder of the Chinese telecom portal site CCTimes, told the media that local manufacturers have "improved so much in technology, build quality and after-sales service that a better price is the only thing left to distinguish them from Samsung and Apple models."

As the largest production center of smartphones in the world, years of foreign outsourcing have endowed the local manufacturers with a mature environment for both research and production.

This enabled them to quickly draw consumers through not only cost, but performance as well.

"Even their marketing strategy is unlike any other," adds Xiang, "No one else in the industry compares to them."

According to Samsung, their sales in China has been declining for the third year in a row, adding now up to only 15 percent of their total revenue. The situation isn't much different for Apple either; the 26 percent plunge in second quarter turnover this year went so far as to make Yahoo exclaim "Apple Is Getting Killed In China".

The prestige associated with such names as Apple and Samsung is waning as Chinese companies venture steadily further into the high end sector.

Meanwhile, it is also not infrequent for foreign companies in China to suffer setbacks here and there outside of the marketplace. In recent months, Apple is noted to have been repeatedly sued for patent and trademark conflicts. Huawei also brought a case against Samsung in May this year claiming patent infringement.

"Whether it's Apple of Samsung, the Chinese native industry has now caught up to them in terms of technology," Xiang asserts, "when it eventually comes to new technological advancements in the future, we won't know for sure who's going to take the lead. Right now it's the same starting line for everyone."

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