Reading news about big smartphone brands can leave one with the impression that the Android ecosystem is a cacophony of crises. Everywhere you turn, one brand or the other is making losses and/or cutting down. However, should one take a microscope to the playing field, one shall find an innumerable number of small manufacturers who are doing fine in their tiny space. The real beauty and success of Android smartphones may not be in the big brands after all. It just might very well be in the small player space.
Scores of small Android smartphone brands are doing innovative stuff. They do not command impressive marketshare, but they serve satisfied customers who return to buy their products again and again. So, forget the numbers for a change. In some cases, some of these brands do not produce and sell more than 500 units of each model that they release. But they do get them sold. Some others produce a few hundreds of thousands per model.
One can imagine that the profit margin is narrow. But again, we are talking about teams of two to five individuals who are partnering with with factory somewhere in China or India to turn into reality their conceptions. Many offer low prices as their USP (unique selling point). Others offer better security, privacy, simplicity, protection and other features like terrestrial TV, scanners, stereo speakers, among others. That is the beauty – anyone can build. And we have really small players piggy-backing on major brands and players to meet real needs here and there.
TECNO. Pliris Mobile. Infinix. Innjoo. Obi Worldphone. Orbra. Wileyfox. Yezz. Gowin. Blue Gate. Ken Xin Da. MBO. Q7. Malata. Fly. Bontel.
These are just a few. The complete list is so long that it will take quite some reading if I were to list them all. I doubt that I even know them all. But these are all brands that do not show up on the global top charts of smartphone marketshare. Being private companies, nobody but those inside them know how really profitable their operations are, but they are they churning out those devices again and again, and they have loyal followings.
Perhaps these are the real beauty of the Android ecosystem riding strong on the fact that anyone – no matter how small and unknown – can take the OS and build on it as they see fit.