Changing gear: Is Geely really going to make phones?

Mobile phone manufacturers of any significance have been dabbling in the automobile pond for some time. Now, vehicle manufacturers are reversing the trend, dipping their toes in murky mobile phone waters.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

By LU Keyan


Hubei Xingji Times a company in Wuhan Economic and Technological Development Zone founded by LI Shufu, chairman of Geely Holding Group, has officially boarded the phone bandwagon. Eccentrically aiming at high-end phones, why is a company specialized in making cars switching lanes?

Frequent iterations?

Xingji Times was established on September 26 with a registered capital of 80 million yuan (US$12.37 million). Li is the major shareholder with 55 percent of the company.

Li tried to explain his sudden predilection with a market that has been invaded more times than Belgium. "Mobile phones are portable terminals that iterate frequently and serve as application carriers for electronic product market verification and software innovation,” said Li. 

In Li's opinion, phones are able to access the Internet. Innovations, he said, can be shared faster and applied to automobiles. “Close interaction,” Li tells a waiting world, “between car and phone software will be possible."

Geely really is planning to manufacture mobile phones, but rather integrate phone technology into its automobile business. The alternative would be Geely controlled by phone manufacturers.

Geely Group is branching out, including a commercial satellite factory. Geely has covered the whole commercial aerospace sector including satellite design, R&D, manufacturing, operation, and maintenance.

But will it fly?

Competition in the phone market is fierce, making it hard for new players. With no experience in phone manufacture, it will be difficult for Geely to establish an R&D system and supply chain from scratch. If Geely’s flying phone plans ever get off the ground, chances are they will be riding on someone else’s wings.

With electronic materials in short supply, Geely is at the mercy of the phone supply chain. Domestic manufacturers are about medium and low-end mobile phones, so Geely is making efforts overseas. Li surmised at his meeting with the press that one day Geely phones would be sold all over the world.