Smartisan seeks boost with new device

By Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2015-12-30 5:03:02

Domestic phone maker shrugs off OEM factory bankruptcy

A Smartisan store in Beijing File photo: CFP

Beijing-based mobile device manufacturer Smartisan Digital Co unveiled its newest Android smartphone Tuesday, despite the recent bankruptcy of one of its original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

With a 2.5D curved glass screen protector, Smartisan T2, the second generation of Smartisan phone, sports a 5-inch display with three buttons below it, Luo Yonghao, CEO of the company, told a conference in Beijing Tuesday. The overall appearance of the newest smartphone is almost identical to that of its predecessor, Smartisan T1, which went on sale in July 2014.

Smartisan T2 is equipped with a Snapdragon 808 six-core processor with 3GB RAM memory. Featuring a 5-megapixel front camera lens and 13-megapixel rear lens, the new smartphone runs on an Android 5.1.1 operating system, according to the conference.

The latest Smartisan phone reflects the company's strategy of constantly highlighting the smartphone's design to attract more users, Zheng Chunhui, director of Beijing-based market research firm Sootoo, told the Global Times on Monday.

With its focus on the product's appearance instead of its performance, "Smartisan T2 is for buyers who recognize Luo's idealism," Zheng noted.

As the competition in China's smartphone market escalates, domestic smartphone manufacturers have to focus more on improving products' user experiences, said Liu Zan, an analyst at Beijing-based market consultancy iResearch.

"For example, companies should work on ensuring the stability of their products' operating system or making phone batteries last longer," Liu told the Global Times Monday.

In a blow to Smartisan, one of its OEMs in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, was shut down, declaring bankruptcy, domestic tech portal reported on December 25. Smartisan noted that the schedule release of Smartisan T2 would not be affected by the incident, as the company has other OEMs to bring sufficient products to the market, according to media reports.

Companies' lack of experience may lead to difficulties in building their supply chain, said Chen Yu, founder of Lenovo-backed company ZUK.

"A smartphone manufacturer has to fully consider the credibility of its OEMs and other important indicators, such as its cash flow," Chen told the Global Times Monday.

Luo, the company's CEO, said Smartisan, along with other customers of the bankrupt OEM, have tried their best to help its employees deal with the huge layoff following the factory's shutdown, according to a post published on Luo's Sina Weibo account on December 25.

Still, analysts are doubtful about the sales prospects of Smartisan T2, particularly as the domestic smartphone market has become saturated in recent years, Men Changhui, an analyst from Beijing-based CCID Consulting, told the Global Times on Monday.

"And the market is currently dominated by big brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi," he noted.

By the end of the third quarter of 2015, Huawei Technologies Co, Xiaomi Inc and ZTE Corp remained in the top three in unit shipments, Beijing-based financial news website reported on December 24, citing a report published the previous day by the China Academy of Telecommunication Research. Though Chinese smartphone brands account for over 80 percent of total market share in China, many companies are still struggling with low profits, the report noted.

However, some analysts suggest that the OEM bankruptcy would not affect Smartisan's upcoming sales plan, as the company's fan base is relatively small compared to those of Xiaomi or Huawei.

"Disappointing sales numbers of Smartisan T1 made us wonder how the second generation could beat analysts' estimates without largely improving its performance," Men noted.

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