China is doing what it’s best for… flooding the market with the same kind of innovation which they modified from Japanese and South Korean smartphone makers. The China way of manufacturing includes dumping large orders in the foreign market in a segment which is yet to be tested. Countries which focus on Research & Development first analyse the market needs and then introduce the final product to the consumer. Not in China, the manufacturers here believe in distracting consumers’ likes and wants with attractive price tags. China produces millions of similar products under different brands. Unlike some reputed Chinese brands, unknown OEMs don’t even hesitate to copy the product. With ready to produce supply chain, China-based brands can introduce the final product faster than the ‘real innovator’.
The obsession by Chinese brands about bezel-less displays have touched its peak after the launch of Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X. Innovation is over in the smartphone segment so modifying with designs is the last frontier left for brands. Unnecessary innovations are nothing but useless modifications. Like in Apple when they ditched the 3.5mm audio jack or bezel-less displays which would break easily. Smartphone buyers would always want to buy a phone with good grip and your HD resolutions would shatter once the screen breaks.
The first brand to introduce truly bezel-less display was Sharp. This Japanese brand with its Aquos series grabbed the attention of technology enthusiasts. The smartphone had okay specifications at a price similar to Samsung Galaxy S3. A unique attempt at that time but it failed to garner sales. As the bezel-less innovation is tested by Samsung and Apple, no Chinese company would hesitate to enter the segment.
Management experts always considered China to be best at manufacturing and worst at promotion. Now it seems that China has learned the lesson. Today, in top 5 global smartphone brands, 3 are from China and the other two (Apple and Samsung) manufacture in China. China-based smartphone brands spend the most portion of sales in branding and promotion. Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi advertisements can be seen everywhere. These brands have done expensive tie-ups with sporting heroes and actors. Oppo bagged a sponsorship of Indian cricket team and FC Barcelona and on-boarded Deepika Padukone and Siddharth Malhotra as brand ambassadors. Vivo has tied up with Ranveer Singh and has won sponsorships right for Kabaddi league and major transport terminals in Mumbai and small cities. Amitabh Bacchan, India’s most loved actor is a brand ambassador of OnePlus. It can be noted that all three brands mentioned here – Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus are owned by the same company, BBK Electronics.
Chinese companies in all verticals would want to compete with each other. Xiaomi is competing with Honor and Oppo is competing with Vivo… and OnePlus is showing off why investments in popular brands like Apple and Samsung suck. The real reason why China is so completive than other brands is – COPYING. In China, it is considered okay to copy. After iPhone X, the same China-based brands have decided to dump bezel-less displays in Indian markets. Oppo launched F5, Vivo launched V7, Huawei launched 7X and OnePlus came with 5T. Direct in the hands of consumers from the markets of Shenzhen. These brands are now deep-rooted the rural offline markets of India. With mass manufacturing of all these differently branded phones in the same factory, Chinese brands are able to offer up to 20% sales commission to offline retailer even after spending millions on PR.
The competition to gain supremacy in Indian markets is so intense that Chinese brands are now ‘Indianising’ their products. All major China-based smartphone brands in India claim that they locally manufacture here in India. That’s just half-baked truth, these phones are just assembled here to avoid import rates. Indians want to buy a ‘Make In India’ product from an Indian brand. But Chinese OEMs won’t let that happen, this is the reason why Micromax and Karbonn couldn’t make their mark. It would be tough for an India-like democracy to compete Chinese style of manufacturing.
– Chaitanya Kulkarni