Gree’s stores no longer offer Gree phones, but some third-party retailers still sell them at less than Gree’s official prices.
Photo by Kuang Da
By XU Shiqi
Gree Electric Appliances, the world’s largest manufacturer of air conditioners, has disbanded its mobile phone core team.
According to a former employee who left last year, Gree’s mobile phone business was established in Zhuhai and moved to Shenzhen around 2019. The Shenzhen team had nearly 100 members at its peak. However, the team has gradually dissolved, with only 40 remaining by the middle of last year.
The former employee said the team is now disbanded, and Gree is not likely to tap into the phone business again.
Gree’s mobile phone website (phone.gree.com) cannot be accessed, and its official WeChat account has not been updated since April 16, 2020. However, two phones are still listed in the product catalog and available on the official sales platform. Prices start at 2,699 yuan (about US$ 380) and sales have been respectable.
On e-commerce platforms, Gree’s stores no longer offer Gree phones, but some third-party retailers still sell them at prices lower than Gree’s official prices.
The Gree mobile phone project began in 2015 and limited quantities of phones priced at 1,600 yuan went on sale that June. In 2020, Gree changed the brand name to TOSOT, a sub-brand of Gree primarily focused on kitchen appliances such as rice cookers and air fryers.
Gree has been diversifying for many years, focusing not only on core products such as air conditioners but air purifiers, floor scrubbers and sterilizers for the consumer market. The smartphone segment did not make a significant impact.
In fact, the mobile phone market has long been saturated. The latest report from market research firm TechInsights shows China’s smartphone shipments were down by 13 percent in Q1. This marks the fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit decline. Perhaps for Gree, giving up is the only choice.