Cellphones/Computers

Latest Business and financial news about Cellphones – Computers industry in China – YoungChinabiz Professional Magazine about Business in China

CONSUMER: Hon Hai, Hisense in Battle for Sharp Brand

Bottom line: A spat between Hisense and Sharp over the former’s use of the latter’s brand name spotlights the dangers of relying on such licensing agreements for Chinese companies going abroad.

Sharp sues Hisense over brand agreement

An entertaining battle is rippling through the headlines as we head into mid-week, pitting Taiwanese contract manufacturing titan Hon Hai (Taipei: 2317) against Chinese TV maker Hisense (Shanghai: 600060) in a battle for the Sharp (Tokyo: 6753) brand name. This is essentially the story of two giants with very little name recognition battling for a brand that, somewhat ironically, fell onto hard times as a company but still retains a relatively strong reputation.

Hon Hai is virtually unknown outside of industry circles, but is one of the world’s leading contract manufacturers that is most often cited as producer of iPhones for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL). Likewise, Hisense is a relatively well-known TV maker in China, but is virtually unknown outside the country, creating obstacles for its global aspirations. Then there’s Sharp, the former Japanese electronics superstar that fell onto hard times was was taken over by Hon Hai last year. Read Full Post…

CHIPS: Chinese Buyer Makes Last-Ditch Effort at Lattice

Bottom line: Lattice Semiconductor’s sale to a Chinese buyer stands a 50-50 chance of getting national security clearance, benefiting from warming ties between the US and China and lack of defense-related technologies involved.

Lattice still trying to sell to Chinese buyer

More than a year after it first became an acquisition target for chip-hungry Chinese buyers, Lattice Semiconductor (Nasdaq: LSCC) is back in the headlines again with what looks like a last-ditch effort at salvaging a sale. Lattice is clearly a mid-sized maker of microchips that fits the profile of what Beijing would like to buy, with a market cap of about $840 million, as China tries to build up its own semiconductor sector that can compete with global giants like Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) and TSMC (Taipei: 2330).

But western governments are wary of China’s aggressive ambitions, which include generous funds for M&A of Asian and western chip makers. A deal first announced more than a year ago saw one of the most aggressive buyers, Tsinghua Unigroup, buy a small stake in Lattice, but then fail to parlay that into an outright acquisition. Now another group, Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, is getting ready to make a third appeal for its plan to purchase Lattice in a filing to the regulator that reviews such deals for national security considerations. Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Lenovo Eyeing CEO Change?

Bottom line: Yang Yuanqing is likely to cede his CEO title at Lenovo to recently returned executive Liu Jun soon, which could be followed by more risk taking and big changes to the company’s lackluster smartphone unit.

Lenovo’s Yang set to cede CEO title?

I used to make fun of mobile carrier China Unicom (HKEx: 763; NYSE: CHU) for its never-ending management reshuffles, but now the more respectable Lenovo (HKEx: 992) is quickly taking that title with its own series of nonstop personnel moves in a bid to right its sputtering ship. What’s interesting to note is that the series of moves are gradually creeping their way to the top of the company, meaning they could eventually unseat chief Yang Yuanqing, which is what I’ve been calling for all along.

This latest move would certainly be the highest yet, and follows Lenovo’s announcement last month of the reorganization of its China region that accounts for more than a quarter of its business. (English article) One part of that overhaul saw the return of former executive Liu Jun to the company to take a top position, and if the latest reports are true Liu could soon take over Yang’s title as company CEO. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Crisis Grows for LeEco’s Coolpad, Yidao

Bottom line: Ongoing crises being faced by LeEco-backed Yidao and Coolpad are likely to deepen in the month ahead, as each company gets abandoned by its major stakeholder and is forced to grapple with rapidly deteriorating business.

Coolpad releases preliminary 2016 results

Two companies snapped up by former online video superstar LeEco (Shenzhen: 300104) are in the crisis headlines this morning, with smartphone maker Coolpad (HKEx: 2369) and car services operator Yidao both driving rapidly towards financial collapse. The first headline has Coolpad announcing preliminary results for 2016 that look quite alarming, as an ongoing back-and-forth with its auditor adds more worries to its story.

The second story has Yidao promising its increasingly unhappy unpaid drivers they will finally get their money late this month, as it tells the world it’s in the process of raising new funds. And if you believe that one, I have a nice bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Coolpad Losses Balloon, No Help in Sight

Bottom line: Money-losing Coolpad is likely to get sold before the end of this year to raise cash for controlling stakeholder LeEco, or could end up getting shut down if no buyer comes forward.

Coolpad to post big H1 loss

It’s a new week, and that means new chances to write about the struggles of companies in the orbit of fast-fading former video superstar LeEco (Shenzhen: 300104). Last week the company’s majority owned Yidao private car services was in the headlines, amid a he-said-she-said spat over 1.3 billion yuan ($189 million) in funds that Yidao said were “misappropriated” by its parent, leading to its own cash crunch that saw many of its drivers going unpaid.

If that wasn’t bad enough, now another one of LeEco’s assets, smartphone maker Coolpad (HKEx: 2369) is warning of ballooning losses due to plummeting sales in the fiercely competitive market. There are two subtexts here, the most obvious being that LeEco is hardly in any position to throw Coolpad a needed lifeline. The other is that LeEco’s own smartphone business is probably dying a rapid death, since it was theoretically going to use Coolpad to make at least some of its phones. Read Full Post…

VIDEO: LeEco Switches Off Vizio Deal, Cuts US Staff

Bottom line: LeEco’s scrapping of its Vizio purchase may be due to currency controls, but should be welcome by the company as a cash conserving move, and could presage a withdrawal of its investment in electric car maker Faraday Future.

LeEco scraps Vizio purchase

The first major pullback for cash-challenged LeEco (Shenzhen: 300104) is coming in the US, where the company is confirming the abandonment of its $2 billion agreement to buy no-name TV maker Vizio. At the same time, unconfirmed reports citing knowledgeable insiders are saying the company is cutting one-third of its headcount in the US. It’s not really clear if this pair of items are related, though both are certainly cost-cutting moves in a market where costs are quite high.

The next big move perhaps will see LeEco abandon its backing for Faraday Future, the electric car-making venture that’s building a $1 billion plant near Las Vegas. That deal is a bit more futuristic than the Vizio TV deal that’s now being abandoned, and is probably a bigger pet project of LeEco founder Jia Yueting. But the reality is that the company needs to conserve cash, and also that China’s foreign exchange regulator is making life difficult for anyone who wants to move money out of the country. Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Xiaomi Chases Value, Dumps Apple Approach

Bottom line: Xiaomi’s adoption of Costco as its new role model and abandonment of Apple looks like a realistic move, and could better position the company to survive over the next 5 years amid a looming market shakeup.

Xiaomi eyes chic cheap image

Smartphone maker Xiaomi appears to be a company with an identity crisis, with reports that charismatic CEO Lei Jun has dumped former role model Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) in favor a new model in US bulk-item supermarket operator Cosctco (Nasdaq: CSCO). Many will probably smile at this not-so-subtle shift at Xiaomi, which was one of China’s hottest companies just two years ago when Lei liked to think of himself as China’s Steve Jobs.

But the adoption of a new role model in Costco probably speaks volumes about how Lei sees his company going forward, as he tries to salvage its core smartphone business following a difficult last two years. That fall from grace includes a 40 percent drop in sales in its home China market in last year’s fourth quarter, causing its market share to slip to 7.4 percent, or about half of what it commanded just a year earlier, according to IDC. Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Oppo Lands in India Protest Storm

Bottom line: A mass protest against Oppo in India over a Chinese manager’s desecration of the national flag won’t impact the company beyond a week or two, and reflects cultural sensitivity issues Chinese firms will face as they expand abroad.

Oppo under fire in India

Smartphone high-flyer Oppo is quickly learning the road to India isn’t always so smooth, with word of a mass protest at the company’s local operation due to a controversy involving desecration of the Indian flag. In this case the company appears to be learning a fast lesson in cultural sensitivity, which underscores one of the more subtle lessons that Chinese firms will need to learn as they expand abroad.

I doubt this particular incident will have any long-lasting impact on Oppo, though it will be interesting to see if it might affect its recent major cricket sponsorship deal in India. (previous post) The incident could also make Oppo think twice about its other big plans for the market, namely the building of a major production base there.  Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Oppo Shows India Resolve with Cricket Deal

Bottom line: Oppo’s major new cricket sponsorship deal shows its commitment to India, but may have to be renegotiated if and when the company’s fortunes decline in the next 1-2 years following its meteoric rise.

Oppo in India cricket deal

Smartphone high-flyer Oppo is trying to show the world it’s serious about India, with word it will pay 1.1 billion yuan ($160 million) for rights to sponsor the nation’s national cricket team. News of the deal comes just three months after China’s top smartphone brand announced plans to build a production facility in the hotly contested India market, which has become a magnet for Chinese brands over the last year.

All that raises the question of whether Oppo is for real, or just another passing fad in China’s constantly changing smartphone landscape. That landscape has seen players like Lenovo (HKEx: 992), Xiaomi and Huawei become dominant players in the world’s largest smartphone market one day, only to rapidly fade the next. It’s obviously still too early to say if Oppo will follow in that trajectory, though my educated guess would be the answer to that question is quite possibly “yes”. Read Full Post…

TELECOMS: ZTE Settles with US, Looks Forward

Bottom line: ZTE’s settlement with the US over illegal sales to Iran will help the company focus on the future, as it advances with plans to move away from low-margin businesses and find more promising new growth areas.

ZTE settles US accusations of illegal sales to Iran

After a year of living in a state akin to suspended animation amid a US probe against it for illegal sales to Iran, telecoms giant ZTE (HKEx: 763; Shenzhen: 000063) is finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, with word that it has finally reached a settlement in the matter. The company previously indicated the settlement would be no small deal, and the nearly $900 million fine it will have to pay proves that’s certainly the case.

But more important is the fact that ZTE has finally settled the case, meaning it can now get on with business without this major distraction hanging over its head. Before the settlement, ZTE had faced the possibility that it might get cut off from its key US suppliers as punishment for illegally selling US-made equipment to Iran in violation of earlier US sanctions against the country related to its nuclear program. Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Xiaomi, Vivo Skip Barcelona Telecoms Bash

UPDATE: After publishing this earlier this morning, a source in Barcelona informs me that Oppo is indeed attending and is holding a press event to show off their newest products. Headline and photo caption changed to reflect Oppo’s attendance, but the rest of the original post remains the same.

Bottom line: The absence of Oppo and Vivo from the world’s top telecoms trade show in Spain this week reflects their overwhelming reliance on China sales, while Xiaomi’s absence from the show could be a cash conservation move.

Vivo, Xiaomi absent from top telecoms trade show

Most eyes from the telecoms world will be focused on Barcelona this week, where an annual show that’s arguably the world’s most important for smartphones is taking place. That seems like a good opportunity to look at who from China’s crowded smartphone arena is attending this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Spain, even though I’m personally not at the show.

Attending the event is by no means cheap, which is probably why some companies may choose the skip the affair. But the decision to attend or not does provide some insight as to what companies are thinking, since you would expect anyone with truly global aspirations to make an appearance at this showcase for the newest telecoms products. Read Full Post…