Welcome to China’s “Wild West” of Capitalism

Monday, November 2, 2009

Not long ago, Tsoi Chun Bun made potato chips. Now he designs and sells millions of mobile phones a year.

He is one of hundreds of young entrepreneurs seeking overnight fortunes in Shenzhen Inc. — the Wild West of the mobile-phone industry. Phones made and designed by these Chinese vendors will account for about a third of the 1.1 billion cell phones that will be sold around the world this year….

…For now, they are happy to focus on the next billion mobile phone consumers — the world’s urban poor and rural residents who often are out of the reach of giant international brands. Those lowly markets, though, are expected to represent 60 percent of global mobile-phone sales by 2013, according to researcher Informa Telecoms & Media…

These vendors are more narrowly focused on individual markets — selling a line in China and, say, Indonesia — and are able to create and implement new features, such as twin SIM card slots so a phone can have two numbers or mobile TV, much faster than companies whose sales span the globe.

These guerrilla mobile-device makers typically churn out a new mobile phone with new features designed with local markets in mind in less than four months, versus nine months for the large global players, said Mingto Yu, chief financial officer of MediaTek. “It’s impossible for a global company based in the United States or Europe to do this,” he said. “You need that local touch.”

Source: San Jose Mercury News (link opens in a new window)