Manufacturing News

China's smartphone makers eye rural Bangladeshi market

In Bangladesh, names on the bestseller list of smartphones include top Chinese brands like Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo that collectively nowadays sell almost as many handsets as the other big brands.

These Chinese brands have closely matched their competitors over the last few years, clinching top positions in terms of market share.

Chinese brands are continuing to outperform their global counterparts in Bangladesh where there are currently over 130 million phone users.

Industry insiders have said Bangladesh has already become a sizable mobile market and now the market share of smartphones, which is currently about 30 percent of total mobile handsets, is set to jump with the imminent launching of Long-Term Evaluation (LTE) services, also known as 4G services in the country.

According to the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA), Bangladesh in 2016 imported 31 million handsets, up 11 percent year-on-year, at a cost of 80 billion taka ($980 million).

Of the imports, the BMPIA data showed the number of smartphone units was 8.2 million worth 65 billion taka ($800 million).

Within such an expanding market, top brands like Huawei are providing stiff competition to gain more access to the hotpot market, where Oppo and Vivo have been available for quite a while and the Xiaomi is on its way to further capture market share.

Huawei, among other Chinese brands, is considered the first established Chinese smart phone maker with a substantial footprint in Bangladesh.

According to the Technology Market Research Firm, Counterpoint, Huawei, who entered the top 5 smartphone brands list for the first time in the first-quarter of 2016, continues to perform well in the segment, moving into the top three on the list in the third-quarter of 2016 for the first time.

The growth was mainly driven by its affordable Y-series smartphones, industry insiders said.

Huawei, the world's second-largest Android smartphone brand, recently launched its flagship Y6II Prime smartphone in Bangladesh and said it was now eyeing rural markets to capture more of Bangladesh's growing market.

On the sidelines of the gala launch event, which was held in capital Dhaka, and involved Bangladeshi superstar cricketer Shakib Al Hasan, an ambassador for Chinese technology in Bangladesh. Ziauddin Chowdhury, who serves as device sales director of Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Ltd told Xinhua that urban areas were still a focus.

"We're still focusing on urban areas. However, as we are also soon to be investing in a network in the rural areas, we expect to get some results in rural areas too."

"In terms of our retail and network investments, we have built our retail network on the expectation that more people will start using smartphones in the months and years ahead."

"We started our (smartphone) operations almost two years ago. We're now building a network infrastructure in Bangladesh and we are still working on how to further penetrate the market," he said.

The company is now feeling the pinch of competition from other Chinese leading brands like Oppo, Xiaomi and other less-known Chinese smartphone brands, Chowdhury added.

Huawei in April last year announced superstar cricketer Shakib Al Hasan's appointment as its latest ambassador for its tech in Bangladesh.

But Huawei's competitors are not sitting idly by.

A Chinese technology company last week said it is planning to set up a mobile phone assembly factory in the country in the shortest possible time to grab a slice of the fast-growing smartphone market.

The Bangladeshi government has withdrawn customs duty on a number of mobile and laptop assembling parts in the national budget for the current 2017-18 fiscal year.

Customs duty on such items were previously set at between 10 and 25 percent.

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