China

There is more than one way to lead in the smartphone industry, and China is at work on all of them.

No longer content to copy foreign products. China is developing brands to compete with Apple and Samsung. Xiaomi is known as its answer to Apple, and Huawei and ZTE, the equipment companies, have moved into handsets.

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According to media reports this week, HTC is developing an operating system for Chinese mobile phone users. The company has now issued a statement – but it makes for a pretty unconvincing denial.

HTC says it is in conversations with the Chinese government and telephone operators. But the troubled Taiwanese company did so, i) without denying the OS exists, and ii) in a way that suggests it isn’t in charge of its own destiny. Read more

It’s not just Apple that can generate sales buzz in China for new devices. A couple of weeks on from Amazon’s Kindle launch in China, and the new e-reading devices are becoming hot properties.

The company told beyondbrics in an email that the two Kindle tablets were sold out “almost immediately” and customers are leaving their contact information for the waiting list to be next in line for new stocks.

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Shares in Sina Corp, the Nasdaq-listed Chinese online media group, rose nearly 21 per cent during trading on Monday after the company said it had agreed to sell 18 per cent of Weibo, its Twitter-like micro-blogging service, to Alibaba Group for $586m. The two came close to a similar deal five months ago. Now they have tied the knot.

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Having now read Tim Cook’s letter of apology to Chinese consumers, I think the Apple chief executive has rather deftly achieved his objective – a public act of contrition – without admitting that his company did anything wrong.

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A web games company is about to test the appetite for Chinese floats in the US in one of the first such deals since the accounting scandals that rocked many Chinese companies in 2011.

7Road.com is the games subsidiary of Changyou.com, a Chinese online game developer that in turn is majority-owned by Nasdaq-listed Sohu.com.

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It’s hard to know which was worse: Nokia‘s third quarter overall, or its results in China. Let’s say… China.

Why? Well, the Finnish mobile company has made a big effort in the country, but it’s Q3 results show that it’s far from paying off.

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Common wisdom has it that when it comes to the web, China goes its own way. For big western sites there are China equivalents: for Google, there’s Baidu. For Facebook there’s Renren. For eBay, there’s Alibaba. And for Twitter, there’s Sina Weibo. Isn’t there?

In terms of numbers, yes. China has over 300m users on the Sina Weibo service – Twitter is banned in China. But hang on. According to a recent report, the most active users of Twitter worldwide are in… China. Not the US. How come?

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These are not happy days for Apple in China. The iconic American brand, outpaced by Samsung in its appeal among Chinese consumers since last year, is now also losing out to other smartphone competitors.

According to IDC, Apple’s share of the Chinese smartphone market by shipments fell by nearly half to 10 per cent in the second quarter from three months earlier. The company came fourth in a ranking topped by Samsung and Lenovo, the Chinese company that is also the world’s second-largest PC vendor.

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Richard Waters

Make no mistake: Apple will end up eating the higher costs that supplier Foxconn will incur to end excessive overtime and improve working conditions at its plants. But, as we suggested earlier this year, it will be Apple’s rivals that will end up suffering mostRead more