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Smartphone-makers look overseas

By Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-12 07:50
A group of women use their mobile phones outside a department store in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province. [Photo by Liu Jiang/For China Daily]

China's mobile phone shipments declined by 12.3 percent in 2017, highlighting the mounting pressure on domestic smartphone players, which are looking to intensify their push to go global this year, analysts said on Thursday.

Companies shipped 491 million handsets last year, with the number for December standing at 42.6 million, plummeting by 32.5 percent year-on-year, according to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, an institute of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Jia Mo, an analyst at market research firm Canalys, said the Chinese smartphone market is hitting saturation point, which will prod big vendors to accelerate their global expansion plans, especially in countries such as India.

"Also, more small players will be squeezed out of the race, as the Chinese market is now driven chiefly by replacement buyers who, in fact, less frequently upgrade their devices," Jia said.

In 2017, 1,054 new types of smartphones were rolled out in China, down 27.1 percent from a year earlier. In terms of brands, domestic companies claim 88.8 percent of the market, which is the world's largest smartphone arena, with foreign companies accounting for the rest, the CAICT report showed.

"Chinese companies are shifting their focus from quantity to quality. Instead of unveiling new products almost every month, they realize that one premium flagship model has greater appeal to consumers," said Xiang Ligang, CEO of telecoms industry website Cctime.

According to a report from Counterpoint Technology Market Research, the combined profit of Chinese smartphone companies crossed the $1.5 billion mark for the first time in the third quarter of 2017, as they expanded their presence in the high-end sector.

But analysts warned that their overseas expansion plans will affect profit margins.

Zhao Ming, president of Honor, a smartphone brand owned by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, said in October that the company aims to increase the contribution of overseas revenue to total revenue from 15 percent in 2017 to 50 percent by 2020.

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