The US has a wide variety of smartphones to choose from, though many consumers have only heard of a certain few. Apple, Samsung, LG, Motorola and HTC are among the manufacturers that people are familiar with. Our smartphones come from many different places in the world, Samsung and LG coming from South Korea, HTC from Taiwan, and Apple well they come from America with the manufacturing being done in many different places, one of which is China.
Apple isn't the only company that manufactures in China, in-fact, there are many like ZTE, Huawei, and Xiaomi. Though we don't see many of those companies making their presence known in the US.
The three biggest companies hanging their hat in China, are ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo. All three of which have done great for themselves, but could do better if they would start improving their standings in the US. So when will they be attempting to do so? Well at CES 2014, there were plenty of Chinese smart phone manufacturers showing off their tech. For example, Huawei showed off their Ascend Mate II, the only part they didn't talk about during their conference, was if they had any plans to release it in the US. Reuters reports that one of the reasons why we don't see more smartphones coming from China, is due to carriers.
According to the report, carriers make up more than nine-tenths of the smart phone market in the US. That means that in order to get anywhere in the US markets, these companies will have to work with carriers. The problem there is that US carriers have to worry about public perception of a product before throwing their name in the light with it. That means the product needs to be seen as well put together, and like it will last, and China is already seen as producing low quality goods.
Forrester Research Analyst Frank Gillett says, "Its one thing to have the product. It's another thing to have all the relationships, build the distribution channels and do the marketing." These could be reasons that Chinese companies are scared to go through all of that for a gamble. Though, that doesn't mean they will never make their way to the US, Gillett said, "We'll maybe start to see things kick in, in 2015." Even if they do get all of those steps done, they still have the consumer to deal with, and that could prove to be the hardest part.
As US consumers, we build loyalties, well for the most part. We also get comfortable with brands, many of our readers are stuck on Samsung, while others are HTC fans, and so on. This is just another obstacle they would face, changing our minds and building a fan base. Gillett's take on the matter is, "It's a tall order to climb into this market and gain significant share now, simply because they are coming in after habits are established, technology is established, and brand names are established."
When it comes to the security aspect of why we don't see Chinese companies making their way to the US, just look at Huawei. They have had a long struggle with the US and the Government. Accusations of espionage will always come with their name, and that's one reason to avoid the US. It has been said, that the company won't let that stop them, but they will have a harder time establishing themselves. One of the other points we mentioned was marketing, these companies will have to do a lot to gain awareness in the US.
The US has really no idea who these companies are, to prove that point, I resorted to a family member. This family member has had a ZTE slider phone, since back when slider phones were the thing to get, slapped across the top of the device, is ZTE. I asked this family member who makes their device, and she told me Metro PCS. Two things here, yes she is using Metro PCS, secondly, she is more aware of the carrier than the company who makes the phone that she refuses to let me upgrade. This whole time she has been using the phone, she thought the ZTE was the model number made by Metro PCS. Endpoint Technologies Analyst, Roger Kay, said, " ZTE apparently has zero brand presence. No one knows who ZTE is," Huawei has a different story, they at least have some recognition in the US, and in the past year it rose by about 5%, but that's nothing for them to take advantage of just yet.
Time will tell just how well these companies will do in the US. They really have no choice but to go for it, and make sure to throw everything they have at the US market, if they want to succeed.
What do you think about these companies? Would you purchase their devices if made more readily available in the US, or would you steer clear?