Sharp, BlackBerry return to domestic smartphone arena
Foreign smartphone brands BlackBerry Ltd and Sharp Corp returned to the Chinese market on Tuesday with the help of local electronics makers. The two companies hope to compete in the world’s largest smartphone market, and square up against domestic rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co and Oppo Electronics Corp.
Chinese consumer electronics company TCL Corp has i ntroduced its first BlackBerry-licensed phone — BlackBerry KEYone, aimed at the mid- and highend market. Equipped with a 4.5-inch full HD display, the smartphone possesses a physical keyboard that provides more flexibility and usable space for typing.
The move follows an agreement between the two companies in December that saw TCL become the manufacturer of BlackBerry smartphones, as BlackBerry moves away to focus on its security software business.
After years of trying to turn its smartphone business around, BlackBerry has largely ceded its global market share to its rivals such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co.
On Tuesday, Japanese electronics giant Sharp revealed its latest full-screen smartphone, Sharp Aquos S2, in Beijing.
Luo Zhongsheng, a senior vice-president of Foxconn Technology Group, said Sharp will put more efforts into developing full-screen smartphones.
Last year, Foxconn acquired Sharp to rejuvenate Sharp’s business, with an aim to expand its product portfolio, including televisions and smartphones.
Analysts said foreign smartphone brands are attracted to China by its huge market potential. However, they may encounter steep challenges as China’s smartphone industry is witnessing a slowdown and the competition among major smartphone makers is very intense.
“At present, it is very diffi-
At present, it is very difficult for BlackBerry and Sharp to challenge the supremacy of Huawei and Oppo.” Wang Yanhui, secretary-general of the Mobile Phone China Association
cult for BlackBerry and Sharp to challenge the supremacy of Huawei and Oppo, although Chinese consumers have some expectations for these old brands,” said Wang Yanhui, secretary-general of the Mobile Phone China Association, adding that users’ loyalty to smartphone brands is relatively low.
Xiang Ligang, CEO of telecom industry website cctime.com, said the brand influence of BlackBerry is much weaker, lacking competitiveness compared with local rivals. He added the newly launched smartphones of niche brands may not be accepted by consumers quickly.
A report by consultancy Counterpoint Research said smartphone shipments in China grew a modest 3 percent year-on-year in the second quarter. Huawei and Vivo were the fastest-growing brands, followed by Oppo and Xiaomi, together cementing the top four spots and extending their lead over Apple and Samsung by a widening margin, the report said.
“The top four Chinese brands now capture close to 69 percent of the market as these brands have raced ahead of international and other l ocal brands with expansive distribution reach and exciting portfolio,” said James Yan, research director at Counterpoint.
China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing announced on Tuesday that it will invest in Dubai-based ride-hailing platform Careem, as part of a new partnership agreement between the two companies, to grow their networks in the Middle East and North Africa.
It marks Didi’s latest move to strengthen the company’s global presence, right after it announced a week ago a similar investment in Uber rival Taxify to expand in Europe and Africa.
The two companies on Tuesday said they would cooperate in intelligent transportation technology, product development and operations. Didi declined to reveal the size of the investment in Careem.
“We will tap into the significant potential of the local internet economy and foster more innovative services for a broader network of communities around the world,” said Cheng Wei, founder and CEO of Didi Chuxing.
Careem, founded in Dubai in 2012, provides affordable transportation to more than 12 million customers, with 250,000 drivers in over 80 cities across 13 countries, including Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.
Careem CEO and co-founder Mudassir Sheikha, said Didi would bring leading edge AI capabilities, insight and expertise to his company as it enters its next phase of growth.