Sharp, Black­Berry re­turn to do­mes­tic smart­phone arena

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By FAN FEIFEI fan­feifei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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