Little-known Shenzhen phone vendor beats Samsung in Africa

Updated 2018-05-17 14:03:00

(Data: Canalys Graphic: GT)

Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Transsion Holdings surpassed South Korean conglomerate Samsung to become the top vendor in Africa in the first quarter of 2018, according to an industry report on Tuesday.

Analysts noted that the rise of the Shenzhen-based company in Africa points to its profound knowledge of the market and great cooperation with local telecommunication operators.

According to a report released by market analysis company Canalys on Tuesday, Tecno, iTel and Infinix, which are all sub-brands of Transsion, overtook Samsung with a 38 percent market share in the first quarter, compared with a 23 percent share for Samsung.

China's Huawei was ranked as the No 4 vendor in the quarter, with a 7 percent market share, down by 3 percent from the first quarter of 2017, said the report.

Zhang Yi, CEO of iiMedia Research, told the Global Times on Wednesday that given the fierce competition in the Chinese smartphone market, Transsion had taken a different path from most of its domestic competitors by seeking growth in the African market.

Zhang attributed Transsion's success in the African market to the fact that the company had pursued sound cooperation with local telecommunications operators and carefully studied the consumption habits and ability of African consumers.

Transsion offers some special features for smartphones in the African market, said a market insider surnamed Chen.

For instance, there are no lights in the evening in some parts of Africa, so Transsion tried to strengthen the torch function on smartphones, according to Chen.

Chen said that although the brand is not widely known by Chinese consumers, it has achieved a firm foothold in the African market and will further expand its presence in other parts of the world.

The shipments of iTel to the world market reached 50 million in 2016, according to information posted on the website of Transsion.

Transsion would export 120 million smartphones to the global market in 2017 and sales in Africa are expected to reach 100 million, domestic news site reported in November 2017, citing Zhu Zhaojiang, founder and CEO of Transsion.

Transsion's growth in Africa also shows that "development potential does not only arise in the Chinese market, but also in markets of other developing countries along the routes of the Belt and Road initiative," Zhang noted.

Zhu said that the company will continue explore emerging markets, including North Africa, India and the Middle East.

The Chinese phone producer grabbed a market that some large brands were not inclined to enter, said Liu Dingding, an independent technology analyst, adding that as the company is based in Shenzhen, a manufacturing hub in South China's Guangdong Province, it could make good use of local resources such as a logistics network that has grown fast in recent years.

But Liu described Transsion's business in Africa as an example of going down-market - the company sells low-quality, low-priced devices to low-income consumers.

"If Chinese smartphone makers hope to realize internationalization, they still need to explore the US and European markets and earn recognition from the mainstream markets," Liu said

Liu said that although Chinese smartphones including those of Huawei, Xiaomi and OPPO are enjoying increasing popularity in the overseas markets, they still have a long way to go if they want to beat global rivals like Apple and Samsung across the world.

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