Is Coolpad the next Huawei?

July 12, 2013
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Coolpad Quattro

In the emerging Mobile technology market that is China, the expectation is that Samsung or Apple would lead the charge, while others scramble to pick up the scraps. That’s the story stateside, so we find it hard to believe it would change elsewhere in the world. China, however, is a tricky one, full of manufacturers we’ve never heard of, and may never see in our day-to-day lives.

Coolpad has made great strides in China, and now holds the distinction of being the third largest smartphone brand, behind only Samsung and Lenovo. That slips them ahead of Huawei, and firmly ahead of Apple. Made by Yulong Computer Telecommunications Scientific Co., Coolpad is trying to deliver what Chinese consumers want: a great smartphone for a reasonable price. They invest heavily into research and development, and boast a litany of manufacturing plants in China, so it would be fair to consider them the Samsung of China.

If the Quattro was intended to be their introduction into the US market, Coolpad was wise to back out quickly.

To further illustrate that point, in 2012 Yulong introduced 48 different models of cellphones into the Chinese market. The devices encompassed the full range or price points, from $50 up to $500, but the company notes they shipped far more low to mid-range devices than higher end units. The Chinese consumers demand a low cost device, and Yulong’s market saturation was instrumental in driving the low end market. For those devices priced from $60-$110, the market position went from 0% to 27% in 2012 alone.

Like Samsung before them elsewhere in the world, Yulong is keen to have an offering for everyone. Whereas they once concentrated on devices for enterprise solutions, their recent focus on the consumer market has paid off. Expanding their horizon has as well, with their first US offering via Metro PCS appearing last year. The Coolpad Quattro LTE 4G smartphone landed in the hands of nearly one million users, according to PC Mag, which probably places it well ahead of more notable devices like the Nexus 4.

They invest heavily into research and development, and boast a litany of manufacturing plants in China, so it would be fair to consider them the Samsung of China.

If the Quattro was intended to be their introduction into the US market, Coolpad was wise to back out quickly. In searching for feedback on the device, reviews all over the Internet suggest the Quattro was simply terrible, perhaps a byproduct of Yulong making it terribly simple. Complaints of the device turning off and never coming back on, poor performance, and even battery explosions abound. A small ripple into the US market left a sour taste in the mouths of many, though the damage was mitigated by only being offered via Metro PCS, an admittedly smaller carrier. If this were a device found on a large carrier like Verizon or T-Mobile, Yulong would have nowhere to turn.

The Chinese market will be similarly critical of Yulong’s offerings. Yulong has been dubbed the “most profitable Chinese smartphone maker”, but if they intend to stay that way, they’ll need to show Chinese consumers more than poor devices that saturate the playing field. They’ve only got a slight lead over Huawei in China, which is a company that has worldwide success, and also refocused their efforts outside the US. If Yulong intends on keeping their market share, they’ll need to remain solvent and create great devices. Huawei does, and so do Lenovo and Samsung. Third place is a nice niche to fill, but keeping it may prove difficult for Yulong.

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