China’s hi-tech takes cen­ter stage

This year Chi­nese com­pa­nies were es­pe­cially prom­i­nent at the CES be­cause for the first time they out­num­bered US ex­hibitors, pro­vid­ing an­other demon­stra­tion that Chi­nese tech­nol­ogy is go­ing global, China Daily’s Qi­dong Zhang and Wang Jun re­port from Las Ve

China Daily (Canada) - - IN DEPTH -

THisense USA

The ar­ti­cle went on to men­tion Chi­nese brands worth watch­ing in 2014, and its first one was Hisense USA.

At the show, the sub­sidiary of China-based TV man­u­fac­turer giant Hisense Group pre­sented a se­ries of new prod­uct lines and its new VIDAA se­ries TV, a full-fea­tured An­droid-pow­ered smart TV with multi-core pro­cess­ing and a beefed-up user in­ter­face.

Hisense claims the VIDAA re­de­fines the cur­rent smart-TV land­scape with a vastly im­proved user ex­pe­ri­ence that does not yet ex­ist in the prod­uct cat­e­gory.

“Hisense has boldly re-in­vented the con­cept of Smart TV with the VIDAA se­ries,” said Jonathan Frank, vice-pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing for Hisense USA. “Our tele­vi­sion is no longer just smart, it’s sim­ply bril­liant.”

Avail­able in March 2014, the VIDAA fea­tures chan­nel “jump­ing” across live TV, video on de­mand, a me­dia cen­ter, and ap­pli­ca­tions. With built-in Wi-Fi, a Chrome browser and screen shar­ing, it also comes with a 30-but­ton re­mote con­trol with air mouse tech­nol­ogy, a pop up vir­tual key­board and nat­u­ral voice con­trol.

With more than 3 mil­lion TV and tablets sales in the US, Hisense’s global rev­enue grew to $14.7 bil­lion in 2013 from $12.8 in the pre­vi­ous year.

To meet the fast growth of US sales, the com­pany said it would build a man­u­fac­tur­ing fac­tory here but did not give a date or lo­ca­tion.

Lawrence Li, CEO of Hisense USA, said the com­pany is com­mit­ted to be­com­ing a top brand among Amer­i­can re­tail­ers and con­sumers.

“We have iden­ti­fied huge room to in­crease rev­enue in our TV prod­uct in the last few years and have de­vel­oped some sig­nif­i­cant re­la­tion­ships with a num­ber of TV re­tail­ers to help cap­ture more of the US mar­ket,” he said.

Call­ing the US mar­ket a “bat­tle­field’’ that the com­pany must win, Li said 2013 was a tough year due to the eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment, but he added that Hisense has de­vel­oped strate­gic plans to grow in today’s mar­ket.

“Our long-range strategy pro­vides a frame­work for build­ing part­ner­ships with re­tail­ers and, ul­ti­mately, cus­tomers,” Li said. “We are not just an­other Chi­nese brand. We are shoot­ing for ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy and suc­cess.”

A wide range of new tele­vi­sions other than VIDAA was also on dis­play at the show, in­clud­ing the H8 se­ries curved UHD TV and the H6 Smart TV se­ries with the lat­est Google TV ser­vice pow­ered by An­droid. he video­cas­sette recorder was in­tro­duced at the Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show in 1970. The cam­corder ap­peared in 1981; high def­i­ni­tion TV in 1998; the Microsoft Xbox in 2001; 3D HDTV in 2009; tablets and An­droid de­vices in 2010; and smart ap­pli­ances in 2011.

This year, the more than 152,000 peo­ple who at­tended the show from Jan 7 to Jan 10 saw curved TVs (Sam­sung’s 85-inch TV, Vizio’s 120-inch LCD TV, LG’s 7-inch 4K TV) in­ter­ac­tive soft­ware with TV (LG’s we­bOS, Mozilla, and Roku) high-res­o­lu­tion wear­able de­vices (LG’s smart watch, Peb­ble’s metal or leather bands smart watch) and Google’s at­tempt to bring the An­droid sys­tem from smart­phones to the au­to­mo­bile dash­board.

The show fea­tured prod­ucts of 15 con­sumer-tech­nol­ogy mar­kets, in­clud­ing au­dio, au­to­mo­tive elec­tron­ics, com­puter hard­ware and soft­ware, dig­i­tal imag­ing, elec­tronic gam­ing, en­ter­tain­ment, In­ter­net-based mul­ti­me­dia sys­tems, video, wire­less de­vices and a con­fer­ence pro­gram with more than 300 ses­sions.

And for the first time since the show started in 1976, ex­hibitors from China out­num­bered do­mes­tic Amer­i­can ones. Of the more than 3,200 ex­hibitors, 937 were from the Chi­nese main­land, with an­other 76 from Tai­wan and 55 from Hong Kong. The United States — where con­sumer elec­tron­ics is a $203 bil­lion in­dus­try — was rep­re­sented by 937 ex­hibitors.

In an ar­ti­cle pub­lished on its on­line site the day be­fore the show opened, the trade pub­li­ca­tion Ad­ver­tis­ing Age said that Chi­nese brands have prom­i­nent spots at the show, and it added:

“One fact speaks vol­umes about low aware­ness of Chi­nese Brands: Only 6 per­cent of Amer­i­cans can name one, ac­cord­ing to a 2013 Millward Brown study. China’s hottest sec­tors, tech and con­sumer elec­tron­ics might change that in 2014.’’

Frank said that the ar­ray of “com­pelling tele­vi­sions’’ Hisense de­buted at the CES was proof that the com­pany is de­ter­mined to pro­vide re­tail part­ners and cus­tomers in North Amer­ica with the high­est level of in­no­va­tion, per­for­mance and choice.

“We’re com­mit­ted to re­tain­ing that win­ning ap­proach go­ing for­ward and I’m con­fi­dent that we’ll achieve our dual goal of es­tab­lish­ing a sat­is­fied, loyal cus­tomer base and be­com­ing a global brand known for qual­ity, per­for­mance and in­no­va­tion,’’ he said. As­cend Mate 2

Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd high­lighted its As­cend Mate 2 smart­phone, which has been launched in more than 40 coun­tries and will be avail­able in the US mar­ket.

In the third quar­ter of 2013, Huawei was ranked num­ber three by In­ter­na­tional Data Cor­po­ra­tion in the smart­phone in­dus­try with a global mar­ket share of 4.8 per­cent, fol­low­ing Ap­ple at 13.1 per­cent and leader Sam­sung with 31.4 per­cent.

Colin Giles, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of Huawei’s Con­sumer Busi­ness Group, said his com­pany’s goal this year is to de­liver 80 mil­lion smart­phones, an in­crease of 28 mil­lion from last year’s 52 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to Giles, Huawei’s glob­al­brand aware­ness in­creased by 110 per­cent to the cur­rent 52 per­cent from 25 per­cent in 2012. In the US, it grew to 22 per­cent from 9 per­cent over the past 18 months. And in coun­tries such as Spain, Ger­many, Italy, UK, France and Ja­pan, Huawei’s brand aware­ness in­creased three to four times, he said.

Say­ing that “in­no­va­tion is al­ways a key for Huawei,” Giles noted that the com­pany in­vests 10 per­cent of its ex­pense in R&D each year. On the other hand, “we’re a con­sumer fo­cused com­pany,” he said, “al­ways talk­ing to con­sumers and striv­ing for “bet­ter vis­ual, more pow­er­ful pro­ces­sors, eas­ier ap­pli­ca­tions such as nav­i­ga­tion, bet­ter bat­tery per­for­mance and pre­mium qual­ity at the right price.”

“Bat­tery

is the

big­gest chal­lenge

for smart­phone pro­duc­ers,” said Richard Yu, CEO of the con­sumer busi­ness group. He said he can use his As­cend Mate 2 to help charge other peo­ple’s phone when needed. Yu said the Huawei phone is pow­ered by “the world’s largest 4,050mAh Li-Poly­mer bat­tery.” Heavy users and busi­ness users can have two-day un­in­ter­rupted per­for­mance. No other brand has achieved more than one­day un­in­ter­rupted per­for­mance for busi­ness users, Yu said.

The As­cend Mate 2 also has the “best-in­class screen to body ra­tio” — 79 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to Yu. The ra­tios of iPhone 5S, Sam­sung Gal­axy S4, Sam­sung Gal­axy Note 3 are 62 per­cent, 74 per­cent and 76 per­cent re­spec­tively, he said.

Len­ovo, the world’s No 1 PC maker, was also at the show.

Gerry Smith, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of Len­ovo Group and pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­cas re­gion, said Brazil and Latin Amer­ica were the No 1 mar­kets for his team to tackle.

But he added that he is work­ing on the “right prod­uct port­fo­lio and right car­ri­ers” while wait­ing for the “right tim­ing” to dive into the US mo­bile mar­ket. Smith did not re­veal any spe­cific num­bers or tar­get date.

“We’ll def­i­nitely en­ter into the US mar­ket at the right tim­ing, with the right prod­ucts and the right part­ners,” he said.

Smith said Len­ovo will aim for the pre­mium and main­stream mar­ket in the US, not the low-end: “We’ll have a bal­anced full port­fo­lio of pre­mium, mid­dle and value prod­ucts.” At the same time, he ac­knowl­edged that the US is a tough mar­ket.

Even though it would be a “lengthy process”, Smith said he be­lieves Len­ovo could beat Sam­sung and be­come the No 1 smart­phone maker in the US with “the right strategy, right prod­ucts and right car­ri­ers.”

“Three to five years ago, Len­ovo was not a rec­og­nized brand in the US,” he said. But through its “Do Cam­paign” and al­most-twoyears mar­ket­ing cam­paign with the Na­tional Foot­ball League, Smith said Len­ovo’s brand con­sid­er­a­tion and brand aware­ness has

80

smart­phones are ex­pected to de­liv­ered by Huawei Tech­nolo­gies world­wide this year, up

from 52 mil­lion in 2013.

$14.7

in rev­enue was recorded by Hisense glob­ally last year, $1.9 bil­lion higher than the pre­vi­ous

year. im­proved by a large scale.

In terms of sales, Len­ovo’s Yoga tablet, which was un­veiled at last year’s CES, is sell­ing well at Best Buy, Smith said, and “we’re happy about that.”

When it comes to smart­phones, the US is a car­rier-ori­ented mar­ket, he said, adding that Len­ovo is in­vest­ing heav­ily in car­rier re­la­tion­ships.

Smith said he, Yang Yuan­qing, pres­i­dent and CEO of Len­ovo Group, and Liu Jun, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of Len­ovo Group and pres­i­dent of Len­ovo Busi­ness Group, have met with car­ri­ers. The car­ri­ers are “ex­tremely im­pressed by our LTE prod­ucts, not only tech­nol­ogy but also the breadth of our prod­uct line of 60 to 70 smart phone prod­ucts,” Smith said.

“We’re not only a PC com­pany, but a PCplus com­pany,” he said, not­ing that Len­ovo de­vel­ops prod­ucts for spe­cific mar­kets.

Smith, who joined Len­ovo in 2006, de­scribed him­self as a “pas­sion­ate, com­pet­i­tive” op­er­a­tional ex­pert. “We achieved con­tin­u­ous growth in the past seven sea­sons that I’ve been in my cur­rent po­si­tion. I ex­pect my team to be per­fect,” he said, to achieve more suc­cess.

CES this year also fea­tured “the fastest video chip in the world,” claimed by Am­barella Inc, a Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia-based com­pany that makes high-end prod­ucts in wear­able sports, high def­i­ni­tion se­cu­rity IP cam­eras, sports cam­eras, au­to­mo­tive cam­era recorders and video sur­veil­lance.

Fermi Wang, CEO of Am­barella, in­tro­duced the Mo­torVu 360 au­to­mo­tive sur­round view and record­ing ref­er­ence de­sign. It fea­tures four full HD cam­era mod­ules that can be em­bed­ded at the front, rear and side mir­rors of a ve­hi­cle, pro­vid­ing 360-de­gree sur­round view for driv­ing or park­ing as­sis­tance as well as si­mul­ta­ne­ous four-chan­nel “black box” record­ing of road in­ci­dents.

“Twenty mil­lion cars with video record­ing will be im­ple­mented into mar­ket in the next two to three years,’’ Wang said.

“The se­cu­rity sur­veil­lance and au­to­mo­bile video sur­veil­lance mar­kets are huge in China. Our prod­uct will be a value-added ser­vice with video cam­era record­ing to ev­ery cus­tomer. And the cam­era is only $100 to $150. ‘No wor­ries’

“With that in­stalled onto your car, there will be no wor­ries whether you get into an ac­ci­dent, or chased by some­one when driv­ing, or be­ing hit while parked when you are not present. All is cap­tured on the sur­veil­lance cam­era, which sup­ports live video stream­ing to smart­phones.”

Am­barella won the GSA (Global Semi­con­duc­tor Al­liance) award of 2013, one of the high­est in the semi­con­duc­tor in­dus­try, and also was hon­ored by GSA in 2010, 2011 and 2012 for be­ing the “Most Re­spected Pri­vate Com­pany.’’

The com­pany is the sole sup­plier to GoPro, known for its high-end cam­eras and wear­able sports goods, and is tar­get­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket with its brand name and cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy. Am­barella’s re­cent part­ner­ship with Google on un­teth­ered live­v­ideo train­ing and coach­ing also showed its ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy.

Hav­ing dis­trib­u­tors in Shang­hai and Shen­zhen to pro­vide OEM cus­tomer ser­vice and sup­port to lo­cal cus­tomers, Wang said Am­brella’s tech­nol­ogy make the com­pany a com­peti­tor with the China-based se­cu­rity giant Hai Shi, a sub­sidiary of Huawei.

“In today’s se­cu­rity mar­ket, since video trans­mis­sion has to go through the In­ter­net to trans­mit to the server, your com­pres­sion tech­nol­ogy is cru­cial to as­sure video qual­ity and per­for­mance,” Wang said. “And the mar­ket today is ready for high res­o­lu­tion; there­fore, how we pro­vide high end prod­uct line to fa­cil­i­ties our prod­ucts in China is cru­cial.” Con­tact the writ­ers at kel­lyzhang@chi­nadai­lyusa and wangjun@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

QI­DONG ZHANG / CHINA DAILY

Chi­nese elec­tron­ics com­pany Hisense is one of the most ac­tive play­ers from China to show its global am­bi­tion at the In­ter­na­tional Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show in Las Ve­gas, and oc­cu­pied the booth which be­longed to Microsoft af­ter the soft­ware giant with­drew from the fair two years ago.

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