Friday, December 6, 2013

Will a Chinese company's smartphone be your next?

CNBC was mentioning the other day that they believe Chinese smartphone makers will start making inroads with markets outside China.  South America is supposedly a growing area of sales for them.

Xiaomi, ZTE, BLU, Oppo, Huawei, and others are out there, although I've only handled BLU and ZTE equipment so far.  Oppo is known for its higher end DVD and Blu-Ray players, along with some odd-named phones like Find.

A lot of these phones use MediaTek processors, which I've been lead to believe were so terrible that the phones were unusable, but that was not my experience. A BLU Studio phablet I used early in the year was good and much cheaper than the unlocked version of the Samsung phablet (bigger than a phone, smaller than a tablet) it was copying.
Having had experience with the LG Optimus One variant Optimus S, it's just a matter of finding the correct storage/RAM/processor combination.  I know that companies have to work from a cost standpoint, but how much does a bad report (or millions of them) cost?

As has been my experience, developing a product only using a checklist doesn't produce a product people really want to use.  You have to make it work smoothly, and assure that the rough edges aren't there, or at least, they don't annoy.  Right now, I'm still annoyed by both iOS and Android.  I'd like to see Firefox OS but being in its infancy, I know that I couldn't be happy, unless I lowered my expectations of what a phone should be.  Phones based on Firefox OS are being sold in countries that are especially price conscious.

Of course, if you're in a price sensitive area, a checklist may be all that's necessary.  Having the luxury of luxury may not be possible, nor would be taking the time to sort the phone's software properly.  I have my doubts about whether Apple or Google properly test their software, so maybe, it doesn't matter how much the operating system is worth if no one cares to do the job correctly.

Along with BLU products, I've handled a couple ZTE products and use one of them for two weeks.  They were sufficient and just as capable as similar devices, but with a lower quality build, unlike BLU products.

At this moment, the only Chinese brand I've seen on the market, Haier, has been selling refrigerators, although they make a variety of products.

I know that other products are coming.  I doubt I'll be on the leading edge for them.  I eat Korean food, but I've barely warmed to Korean electronics.  I'm trusting of food from Taiwan and Hong Kong, but not Mainland China.  Of course, a lot of products I have were likely made in Mainland China, under the supervision of a company elsewhere in the world.  I have no doubt that, like the Japanese factories of the 1950s, that China's current labor force will become better.

It took quite a while for Japanese products to be great, and similarly as long for South Korea's products.  It will be a while for China's products, even though they're making products every day for people all over the world.  Twenty or thirty years into the future, we'll likely see plenty of Chinese names in regular use outside of China.

Update 2014.01.29: According to the numbers this week, Xiaomi has been doing a number on Samsung in China.  Samsung is probably feeling a lot of pressure in the midrange, especially since that's where this Chinese makers' phones reside and where Apple's iPhone 5c is placed, since it's finally on the world's largest carrier, which happens to be in China.

Chinese companies are still trying to market their phones in the U.S.A. but the government is skeptical about their governmental ties and isn't likely to approve any of them for purchase, and they clearly don't want the networking equipment installed anywhere.  Of course, who would spy on the American people besides the NSA?  :-D  The Chinese government seems skeptical of using Cisco products in China, conversely.

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