If you were asked to recommend a non-Chinese smartphone in 2019, what brand would you pick it from?
Yesterday, a friend buzzed me up on WhatsApp. He was shopping for a new smartphone and wanted me to recommend one. He did not want a Chinese smartphone. I will reproduce a small chunk of our conversation here for context.
Friend: Bros…You are the master of this game. That’s why I want to ask you.
Friend: Abeg recommend me a phone of between NGN60,000 to NGN70,000, but good battery life.
Me: Are there any brands you don’t want?
Friend: I do not want most of the Chinko (Infinix, Gionee) aside TECNO and Huawei. I can even extend budget to NGN80,000. I am tired of always charging.
So, I did a quick audit, and having eliminated all Chinese brands, I was left to pick a phone for him from Apple, Nokia, and Samsung. Those were the only non-Chinese smartphone brands left standing.
Someone will ask, “What of Motorola?” Motorola used to be an American brand but now belongs to Lenovo, which is Chinese. So, there’s that.
And what of BlackBerry? Well, it is still a Canadian brand, but when last did anyone here see a store selling a BlackBerry phone? Aha. I cannot remember when last I did.
The Swing from Europe to China
Years ago, most mobile phone brands were European. Nokia, Siemens, Ericsson, Alcatel, etc. While there were brands from elsewhere, it was Europe that dictated the trends and had the numbers. But things soon began to change, and today, we are at a point where European smartphone brands are an endangered specie.
Nokia is the last major European brand standing. Samsung is Korean, and Apple is American.
Made In China?
I expect people to respond and point out that most modern smartphones, including Apple, Nokia and Samsung, are made in China. That is true. But it is still not the same thing as those brands being Chinese. All three of them have design and software input from their home bases. The labour force that put iPhones together may be Chinese, but the heart and soul of that phone is unmistakably American.
So, no; Apple iPhone is not a Chinese smartphone. Neither are Nokia and Samsung smartphones. But I digress. Let’s return to the focus of this blog post.
A non-Chinese smartphone in the Future?
Here is the thing: there is a strong possibility that one day, if you do not want a Chinese smartphone, it would mean that you do not want a smartphone at all.
Once upon a time, Motorola was so big and successful in mobile that it was inconceivable to think then that it would be sold one day. Not just sold, but sold to a Chinese company. Yet, it happened.
Those of us who lived through Nokia’s hey days could have sworn that there was no way the company’s fortunes in mobile could change so drastically. But we saw it happen.
Samsung is currently struggling against the onslaught of Chinese smartphones in the market. It does not look like they will win this battle. What is to stop an acquisition one day? Samsung Mobile as a subsidiary of say Huawei? Preposterous! But history tells us to not say never.
Or Apple in the hands of Xiaomi. Or Nokia in the hands of Transsion. *ducks and dodges stones and sticks* Calm down. None of these scenarios are impossible. If you have been around long enough in mobile, you are used to seeing it.
I watched as the great Ericsson merged with Sony to form Sony Ericsson. At the time, it was Ericsson that had the great smartphones and numbers. Sony was a small-time mobile manufacturer restricted mostly to the shores of Japan.
But after Sony Ericsson struggled for a while, guess who bought out who in the partnership? And so it was that the great Ericsson Mobile was swallowed up by Sony. It is sad that Sony is still struggling till today though.
Anyway, you get my point by now. At the present rate, one day, all smartphones in the world might be Chinese.
By the way, I got a recommendation for my friend. I am not telling you what non-Chinese smartphone it is. I don’t kiss and tell. *wink*