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Cellphones Businesses China Handhelds Hardware

Chinese Smartphone Invasion Begins 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-we-call-swayze-or-hemsworth dept.
snydeq writes "Tech giants Apple, Google, and Microsoft were no-shows at CES this week in Las Vegas, which worked out just fine for Chinese vendors looking to establish a name for themselves with U.S. consumers. 'Telecom suppliers Huawei and ZTE, in particular, have set their sights on breaking into the U.S. market for smartphones and tablets. ... Whether these Chinese imports can take on the likes of Apple and Samsung remains to be seen, but as Wired quotes Jeff Lotman, the CEO of Global Icons, an agency that helps companies build and license their brands: "The thing that's amazing is these are huge companies, and they have a lot of power, but in the United States nobody has heard of them and they're having trouble gaining traction, but it's not impossible. Samsung was once known for making crappy, low-end phones and cheap TVs. Now they're seen as a top TV and smartphone brand."'"
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Chinese Smartphone Invasion Begins

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @06:24PM (#42562663)

    It's sold under the Apple brand.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday January 11, 2013 @06:35PM (#42562759) Homepage

    I have used a LOT of china smartphones. and they all suck badly. really poor Android installs, really REALLY bad hardware. Innovative ideas, I LOVE the dual sim phones, but they either come with batteries that are garbage or the phone it self has QC issues that make it a swing and a miss.

    So unless they have a dual core 1.5ghz Android 4.2 phone for $29.00 unlocked... they will not sell many.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Friday January 11, 2013 @07:00PM (#42562985) Homepage

      I've used a lot of American, Japanese and Korean smartphones with really poor Android installs and really bad hardware.

      I've also used some really good ones. There are some damn nice phones coming out of China now, quad core and vanilla Android nice.

      • vanilla Android

        That must be Ice Cream Sandwich. Typical Android phone, ships with an old OS version.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        you have not use any american Smartphones. None exist, There is not one cellphone on this planet you can buy that was made in america.

    • by Alex Zepeda (10955) on Friday January 11, 2013 @07:15PM (#42563115)

      Yeah, we use ZTE modems (embedded stuff) at work. It's a tossup between the support and the product as to which is actually worse. None of our vendors enjoy selling ZTE products. Our standard policy is to ship the modems from the vendor to ZTE to ensure proper configuration. We've had one batch that was provisioned for a Chinese telecom, so we ended up "roaming" on our carrier and were assigned IP addresses owned by a Chinese company. All of the ZTE documentation for this particular modem is for the latest version of the firmware (which is not backwards compatible with the previous version of the firmware). Well, despite sending all of these things back to ZTE, only a handful of the modems have the current, documented version of the firmware. Despite asking for documentation for the older version of the firmware, ZTE has refused to provide any. Their solution is to recall hundreds of modems, ship them to ZTE and hope for the best. The firmware is not user updatable.

      No. Thanks.

      I feel for any carrier that things hawking ZTE phones will be a reasonable experience.

      • by bedouin (248624)

        My ISP gave me a ZTE 3G modem. The 3G router I plugged it into would randomly report that the modem was unplugged, sometimes after a couple days; sometimes after five minutes. After trying every firmware release I could with the router I gave up, unlocked a friend's unused modem from another manufacture, and have been fine ever since.

    • "So unless they have a dual core 1.5ghz Android 4.2 phone for $29.00 unlocked... they will not sell many."

      No, but you have a lot for 129$ still a very good bang for the buck.

      • No, but you have a lot for 129$ still a very good bang for the buck.

        Compared to 2002, most modern smart phones are great bang-for-buck.

    • Morons like Lumpy just don't get and never will. Samsung made crappy stuff and then they got better. Sony used to make crappy stuff and then they got better AND then they went wallstreet and went crap and all their engineers went to Samsung with a big paycheck and layoff package. And Americans made crappy stuff nobody wanted except cheap grain and meat and then they got better and destroyed British industry.

      You start producing crap and cheap clones while learning from doing the assembly of others and then

  • by PantherSE (588973) on Friday January 11, 2013 @06:39PM (#42562799) Homepage
    because they're big enough brands to have a show of their own. Why spend the money on an event where you have to fight for attention when you've established your brand enough that the media clamors to be invited to your event?
    • They weren't really no-shows, either. Who do you think is providing the software that runs on those phones? The same big name companies that were supposedly "absent".

  • Branding does matter, and Huawei is rather odd to American ears.

    Other than that it'll be all about what they can offer in terms of price, features, and quality. Quality seems to be a big issue for many Chinese brands. They focus on low price above all else, and drive quality down too far. This could be a particular issue in the smartphone market where carries want to lock people in to 2 year contracts. That means that equipment needs to survive for 2 years, or you'll have angry customers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As compared to the strange sounding Hyundai, Volkswagen, Nokia, Nissan, Lenovo, etc... They do OK in US market.
      • As compared to the strange sounding Hyundai, Volkswagen, Nokia, Nissan, Lenovo, etc... They do OK in US market.

        Better to say "they did OK in the US market eventually". Yes, they all had acceptance problems when they first appeared over here, mostly because most people prefer familiar brands to unfamiliar.

        In a few years, the Chinese smartphone brands will sort themselves out into "good reputation" and "cheap garbage", and the former will do well, and the latter will quietly rebrand themselves and try again

      • by bedouin (248624)

        Those names roll off the tongue easily enough though. Except for Hyundai, the other brands have pretty obvious pronunciations. Huawei is a strange construction for an English speaker, comprised of four vowel sounds in a three syllable word, with two of them being consecutive.

    • They also have a brand problem in general. PR people must be salivating...

      US Congress Rules Huawei a security threat [slashdot.org], Vulnerabilities [slashdot.org], may scare off customers. [slashdot.org]
    • Rename Huawei to Chuck Norris - then it will really kick ass!
      • by bedouin (248624)

        If you call it Chuck Norris people will just continue to associated their product with cheap, outdated things that no one really wants.

  • "Still, Hisense products are tough to find in the U.S. outside of Walmart, Amazon.com and Costco.com."

    Other than Target, that's everybody that matters in electronics and appliances.

  • by gmuslera (3436)

    More manufacturers wanting to differenciate themselves from the rest means also more diversity on the software front. Thats from where Sailfish, Tizen, Firefox OS, and even Open Web OS phones will come.

    The "We have the virtual monopoly so no need to innovate" mentality is about to get a hit (unless they use other tactics counterattack, like claiming that they will attack your privacy (even more than the US government is doing with everything US based), or with patents (after all the Apple fight to ban Sams

    • More manufacturers wanting to differenciate themselves from the rest means also more diversity on the software front. Thats from where Sailfish, Tizen, Firefox OS, and even Open Web OS phones will come.

      So far it just seems to mean an ever more fragmented Android.

  • by bmo (77928) on Friday January 11, 2013 @07:12PM (#42563087)

    LG used to be known as Gold Star. Gold Star was known as the "junk" brand of Sears, K-Mart, Zayre (oooh, I'm old) and other stores that targeted the low end consumer.

    Gold Star had such a bad reputation that they changed their name to LG which stands for Lucky Gold Star.

    Those that pooh-pooh the Chinese brands are ignoring all of the history since WWII. We used to laugh at Honda, Toyota, Kawasaki, Sony, NEC, Yamaha, and all the other Japanese brands, and now they high quality and popular (even luxury brands!). The American car and electronics manufacturers were complacent and we nearly completely lost automobile manufacturing entirely *twice* - only to be bailed out with government loans. We lost consumer electronics manufacturing entirely in the US.

    Korean brands used to have a ridiculously bad reputation. Now we have Korean brands that people are more than willing to buy, sometimes preferring them over Japanese brands like Sharp. Hyundai used to be viewed as a disposable car (I had an Excel at one point). Now they are good quality transportation, as good as anything Japanese (but maybe not Infiniti or Acura).

    And now we have idiots replying to this story saying that the Chinese will never make higher quality goods, as if the Chinese are somehow inherently inferior. This smacks of denial and racism, frankly, the same kind of denial and racism that we used against the Japanese and Koreans, before the Japanese and Koreans kicked our asses in manufacturing.

    It feels good to think that you're superior to other people...but this is delusional. This is why Jared Diamond's book angered so many conservatives - he exposed the environmental, food, and natural transportation advantages people in the Middle East and Europe had over other locations on the planet. He detailed how these advantages were the real reason why European civilization became so successful, instead of some inherent quality of "white" people. And you see this every day. You see it in the denial that "those people over there" can't possibly be as good scientists and engineers as we in the US are.

    It's a dumb worldview, and eventually self-defeating, because where the manufacturing goes, the science and engineering goes too. We here in the US are not special. Complacency brings down empires - political and economic both. We have been complacent for 60 years, because we thought the post WWII boom would go on forever.

    --
    BMO

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday January 11, 2013 @08:42PM (#42563831)

      You seem to be arguing with someone that doesn't exist in this thread. I've seen nobody say "China can never make quality hardware." What people are saying is that they will need to make quality hardware, before they'll gain much in the way of US marketshare. Many of us have noticed that goods developed and branded by Chinese companies tend to be cheap at the expense of all quality. That will be a problem in the smartphone market most likely.

      I'm quite sure China can produce quality goods, because I own some of them. I've goods that were produced in China, to the spec of a foreign company that are quite high quality. However that does not mean that the goods their domestic companies are choosing to produce are high quality.

      Also your whining about complacency and bringing down empires shows a real lack of awareness of the US and the world. For one, you can hardly call the US complacent. Lots of top notch R&D happens in the US, lots of top notch manufacturing. A simple example would be the CPU most likely in your PC: Intel. They have the most advanced fabs in the world, and ruthlessly push the technology curve ahead. And yes, they manufacture in the US dominantly (8 of 11 fabs).

      What's more there's nothing to "bring down". The US is a nation, not an empire and guess what? The US doesn't have to be #1 at everything to still be a nice place to live. I've been to a number of countries, all of them by definition not #1 at all the things the US is, and they were all quite nice. Canada, Norway, the UK, all places I would be very happy to live. They don't get to claim many "#1s" but they don't have to. It isn't a situation of "Someone is the best and everyone else sucks."

      There is room in the world for a successful China AND US, just as there is room for a successful UK, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and so on.

    • by Dan East (318230)

      The American car and electronics manufacturers were complacent and we nearly completely lost automobile manufacturing entirely *twice* - only to be bailed out with government loans.

      Ford stayed strong throughout the economic recession, did not require any bailout, posted record profits, and produces the best selling car in the world. Two specific automakers were poorly managed and operated, and when the economy tanked, they couldn't survive. Perhaps they should have been allowed to fail so the stronger, better operated companies could have taken over their share. Regardless, the USA did not almost lose the entire automobile industry, as Ford is still a world leader.

      We lost consumer electronics manufacturing entirely in the US.

      No, we sent it aw

      • by bmo (77928) on Friday January 11, 2013 @09:52PM (#42564331)

        And you are being a Bigot in assuming that the Japanese and Chinese are exactly the same and capable of the same accomplishments because they all look Asian.

        No, I am saying that they are exactly the same and capable of the same because they are *human beings*.

        Meet your new status, fuckhead.

        --
        BMO

        • by Dan East (318230)

          No, I am saying that they are exactly the same and capable of the same because they are *human beings*.

          You are a deluded fool. Who wins all the worlds major marathons and why? If you think all human beings, or even races, are equal then you ignore the blatantly obvious. Further, human beings exist inside of a society and economy. Those constructs limit what they can and cannot do. I can only presume you do not know the difference between China and Japan, and only see them as blobs of generic people, so it is impossible to have a rational discussion with you on the matter.

      • > Ford stayed strong throughout the economic recession, did not require any
        > bailout, posted record profits, and produces the best selling car in the world.

        Correction. Ford was going down to the same hot place in the same handbasket as GM. Bonds of both companies were downgraded to junk-bond status in early May of 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41573-2005May6.html [washingtonpost.com] Ford had fewer assets than GM, and suffered a near-death experience with a loss of $12.7 billion in 2006. http://news [bbc.co.uk]

    • Particularly their software has been half baked for android.

      The only reason we don't notice it this round is their Nexus 4 had a Quad Core A15 and 2GB RAM. Nothing can slow IT down...just drain the battery.

    • This has gone on LONG before. Do you think it is new for imports to replace local production? It has been going on for literally centuries, no for thousands of years.

      2000-3000 years ago people already were massive traders with goods from the north of Europe and the middle east ending up in Switzerland.

      The US itself was once nothing more then a little upstart colony but with the changing tech (freezing) it changed British farming forever. Same with the prison colony Australia. Nowadays, south american stea

      • by bmo (77928)

        I can't argue with anything you've said.

        I was just writing from the perspective of a resident of the US since WWII and a witness to rampant American Exceptionalism philosophy in my 47 years on this planet.

        Of course if you want to look at the larger picture, yes, there is no actual race out there that is special and that success is always contingent on current circumstances (resources, ambition, etc), which is why I mentioned Jared Diamond's book, "Guns, Germs, and Steel," That book is actually an excellent

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Except China has yet to really produce much for Western consumption which isn't generally considered to be 'crap'. Yes they produce some things for other companies, under external control, but nothing "Chinese". So why is that? They've been exporting to the US and the West as a whole for much longer than Japan had to spin up their electronics and car excellence.

      I'm not saying it won't happen, I'm just saying it hasn't happened yet, and I'm curious as to why. We've even got companies moving back to stateside

      • by bmo (77928)

        >I'm not saying it won't happen, I'm just saying it hasn't happened yet, and I'm curious as to why.

        China lagged behind both Korea and Japan because of two things:

        WWII (the Japanese invaded and such) and the Cultural Revolution. While WWII and the Korean War interfered with both the advancement of Japan and Korea, Japan was rapidly built up after the war and so was Korea after the Korean war. Because they were our buds and we gave them money to do so, because COMMUNISM.

        China had to contend with the Cult

  • The thing that's amazing is these are huge companies, and they have a lot of power, but in the United States nobody has heard of them and they're having trouble gaining traction, but it's not impossible

    Change "United States" to "China", and you've just described Google's problems when they attempted to expand several years ago. Baidu is still the number one search provider in China. There are plenty more examples of this. It's not easy to predict when a product will find traction in a foreign market.

  • People have never heard of ZTE and Huawei? http://www.mycricket.com/cell-phones/by/zte [mycricket.com] http://www.mycricket.com/sitesearch?site=all+mycricket.com&q=Huawei+ [mycricket.com] Cricket sells them both in the US.
    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      Yes that sentence in the summary seemed weird. They may be newish in the ~smartphone~ market but they've been selling 3G/4G USB dongles (ZTE, though often re-branded by the telco selling them) and mobile phone infrastructure (Huawei, towers, relays, routers and the like) for a long time, including in Western countries.

      Take a look at any dongles or pocket wifi things you've got floating around. There's a good chance it's actually a ZTE device.

  • by Koreantoast (527520) on Friday January 11, 2013 @07:27PM (#42563235)
    Chinese firms like Huawei face an additional, very complicated hurdle that Japanese and Koreans firms didn't face when they worked their way into the American market, the "taint" that's left on their brands by the Chinese government. When Japanese and Korean firms first came into the US, they "only" had to deal with name brand recognition, quality, etc. While there was some hysteria around Japan Inc. and whatnot buying the US, I would suggest that Chinese concerns are probably even greater, magnified by concerns of military espionage and a messy history between the two nations from 1949 to today. It's not fair, but it's unfortunately a real thing they have to deal with. Thus, they have just that one extra headache they have to deal with, not just convincing that their products are competitive but that they're not out to steal your data and wage war with the United States as well.

    I would also add that unlike Japan, they face much stiffer competition entering into the US market with a larger number of well established, well funded players who unlike blindsided American firms, much better understand how the electronics-export game works.
  • I bought my kids Huwaei Ascend [wikipedia.org] android smartphones several years ago (2010). This so called "invasion" started years ago. If you can even call it that, since I'm pretty sure all smartphones are made in China, aren't they?
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday January 11, 2013 @08:01PM (#42563439)

    Straight from this week's The Economist, http://www.economist.com/news/business/21569398-how-did-lenovo-become-worlds-biggest-computer-company-guard-shack-global-giant [economist.com]

    Lenovo is on a roll. It is number one in five of the seven biggest PC markets, including Japan and Germany. Its mobile division is poised to leapfrog Samsung to grab the top spot in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market. This week it made a splash at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with what PC World called “bullish bravado and a seemingly bottomless trunk” of enticing new products.

    To focus on PCs, Mr Yang’s [CEO] predecessor sold Lenovo’s smartphone arm for $100m in 2008. Mr Yang bought it back for twice as much the next year. He believes that PCs and other devices will converge, so knowledge of one area will breed expertise in the other. He may be right. Smartphone sales are red hot in China, and Lenovo is now selling mobiles and tablets in several emerging markets

    He also thinks Lenovo has a secret weapon. It has kept a lot of manufacturing in-house (why outsource to Foxconn when you already pay Chinese wages?). Mr Yang believes this in-house expertise gives his firm an edge in product development. But Lenovo must exploit that edge better than it has done so far if it is to compete with a technology powerhouse like Samsung and build a global brand anything like Apple’s.

    Has anyone seen one of these Lenovo phone critters yet . . . ?

  • ZTE Nubia-Z5 (Score:4, Informative)

    by gitano_dbs (1490853) on Friday January 11, 2013 @08:57PM (#42563923) Homepage
    They are not only cheap models, ZTE its releasing this http://www.phonearena.com/phones/ZTE-Nubia-Z5_id7609 [phonearena.com] this month. Quadcore processor at 1500 MHz, 5 inches display on 1920 x 1080 pixels and 441 ppi.
  • the phone is so cheap, I can NOT change the ringtone.

    I see it used on TV as a "throw away" phone quite often.

    Samsung is still making cheap shit that no one wants, they just raised the price on their stuff so you think it's not a cheap piece of shit.

  • If every big company outsources their production facilities to China, what do you expect to happen? Chinese manufacturers will sit on the know-how idly, without taking advantage of it? Of course they'll start manufacturing their own products after a while.

    Smartphones, cars, air-conditioners, fridges, ships, armament, you name it. It's inevitable.
  • A $5 phone that lasts about 3 months and then I can bring it in get another one. The key problem isn't the phone it's the 'activation fees' they charge. The upside though is that finally Sprint would get a garbage phone as terrible as their service.

  • ...on a large scale, don't expect Huawei and ZTE to be influential in the US market.

    Right now, the "Big Four" of cellphone companies with US operations (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile USA) are mostly pushing well-known brands of cellphones from the likes of Apple, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung. As such, these five cellphone companies have nearly all of the market share (though Nokia is starting to make a comeback with their Windows Phone 8 based Lumia models), and new companies like Huawei and ZTE m

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