Historically, Chinese start-ups have stayed on the fringes when it comes to technology shows in the West. This year, however, at the CES 2013 exhibition in Las Vegas, a number of Chinese brands escaped the International Pavilion and took the main stage, cementing their status as genuine up-and-comers in the Western technology market.
One of the Chinese exhibitors at CES was ZTE, who currently manufactures phones and counts American network provider Verizon among its clients. Despite having maintained a foothold in the US for some years now, it looks like 2013 might be ZTE’s break out year, with plans to release a smartphone with a Firefox operating system in Europe (and maybe even the States).
Huawei was another brand which received considerable attention at the show due to the cutting edge design of its smartphones; the Ascend P1 S is rumoured to be the “world’s slimmest smartphone” with a thickness of 6.68mm. Huawei is also dipping its toe into the nascent “phablet” trend with the Ascend D2, which features a 6.2 inch screen. This should come as no surprise though; in 2010, Huawei was ranked the fifth most innovative company in the world by Fast Company, and received similar recognition from The Economist, British Telecom and the Global Telecom Business Innovation Awards.
There is still a widespread, rather dated view in the US that native Chinese brands are inferior, even though the majority of American electronics products are now manufactured in the same region. But branding consultant Hayes Roth believes that these preconceptions can be challenged and reshaped. Speaking to Mashable, he explained that similar views were held about products from Japan back in the 1960s, and South Korea much more recently. “The Japanese got around that by reinventing quality control… They became the gold standard.”
Korean brands such as LG and Samsung have also been able to prove their quality and staying power among US consumers. Now it appears that Chinese contenders like Haier, Hisense, Huawei and ZTE are set to join the race.