Mobile World Congress 2017

Gionee launches newest startphones aimed at building overseas presence

The A1 and A1 Plus, the first smartphones in Gionee’s new A-Series, have been launched at the Mobile World Conference 2017 in Barcelona

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 4:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 10:41pm

Chinese smartphone brands are increasingly seeking business opportunities outside their home market where competitions is less fierce, with the latest example Gionee, which unveiled a new line of its flagship product on Monday tailor-made for overseas customers.

Its newest handsets are its new “A” line of devices – the Gionee A1 and the larger A1 Plus – which both feature selfies functions and top audio quality, as well as longer battery life.

The new product offerings represent a major U-turn from its priority domestic branding strategy which was heavily promoted for their security functions, mainly targeting businesses.

Speaking in Barcelona at the Mobile World Conference 2017, Gionee’s president Lu Weibing said its demand from key markets abroad is relatively small so the new lineup features entertainment features to better cater for different consumer preferences.

Lu added the new phones will be launched first in Indonesia, Nigeria, Indonesia and Egypt, but not in the Chinese mainland.

Competition in the world’s largest smartphone market remains cutthroat, with top brands further expanding their influence and squeezing out the smaller players.

“The Chinese (smartphone) market is the most competitive in the world. If you can survive in China, you can survive in any other markets in the world,” said Lu.

According to a report last month from IDC, a premier global provider of market intelligence, China’s top brands in order are Oppo, Huawei, Vivo, Apple and Xiaomi, which collectively accounted for 66.5 per cent of overall smartphone shipments in 2016, up from 59.7 per cent the year earlier.

Only the top three brands posted shipment gains, however. Apple and Xiaomi’s handset numbers in China have slumped 23.2 per cent and 36 per cent over the previous year, their first year-on-year sales declines in the mainland market.

Chinese vendors will continue to focus on international expansion plans. We expect them to increase their shipments in the international market, with India a key target
Tay Xiaohan, IDC senior market analyst

“Chinese vendors will continue to focus on international expansion plans,” Tay Xiaohan, IDC senior market analyst wrote in a report.

“We expect them to increase their shipments in the international market, with India a key target.”

Leading Chinese brands Oppo and Huawei have already been working flat out to expand their overseas plans.

Now considered the most successful Chinese brand on the global stage, Huawei’s foreign shipments account for half of its total.

Oppo announced in late 2016 it was planning to invest 1.5 billion yuan on an industrial park in India with the goal of producing 100 million devices per year.

Other players such as ZTE and TCL have also identified their own key overseas markets for smartphone sales, according to their own strengths in the past few years.

Gionee reportedly sold 40 million handsets in 2016, 35 per cent of which were sold outside Chinese market.

It has now set a sales target of 60 million units for 2017, expecting the increase mainly from abroad due to the challenging domestic market, according to Lu.