Why Chinese Auto Billionaire Li Shufu Bought Struggling Smartphone Maker Meizu


Chinese billionaire Li Shufu has acquired Meizu, 1 of China’s earliest smartphone makers, in a transfer anticipated to assistance his vehicle business Geely acquire motor vehicles with options that are joined to the electric power of handsets.

Hubei Xingji Shidai Technological know-how, backed by Li, accomplished the invest in of a 79% stake in Meizu. Li’s Geely, which also owns Volvo and a stake in Mercedes-Benz Group, sees the acquisition largely as a way to take up technological know-how for fashionable cars, analysts say. They take note that Meizu takes advantage of its homegrown Android operating procedure, Flyme, which is customizable and allows smartphone end users install non-Android apps.

“By obtaining the entirety of Meizu, Geely would have entry to Meizu’s Android-primarily based working technique, the Flyme OS, which can assistance Geely achieve a entrance-row seat in key insights on the feasibility of intelligent and autonomous driving,” states Yang Wang, London-based mostly senior exploration analyst at Counterpoint Study.

“It seems to all the gamers concur that the motor vehicle will come to be a more standard piece of hardware, with software package being the bedrock for potential automobiles and application upgrades, experiences and information becoming the essential differentiator among manufacturers,” Wang provides.

In an additional bid to get the job done with consumer electronics, Geely fashioned a manufacturing undertaking very last year with Taiwanese assembler Foxconn Know-how.

The Meizu acquisition goes in opposition to a development of large-name builders in client electronics obtaining into electric powered automobiles in excess of the earlier three decades. Sony, for instance, declared in March it was becoming a member of forces with Honda to produce electrical automobiles. “Once a leader in consumer electronics, Sony has some highly developed computer software and sensor giving in its arsenal which will be utilised to make a mark in the automotive business,” Counterpoint senior analysis analyst Soumen Mandal mentioned of Sony’s electric powered motor vehicle ideas.

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Geely final calendar year released the Geometry EX3 electric car, which it known as its most economical EV launch to day at $9,200. Its Zeekr electric-car or truck manufacturer created previous yr may perhaps operate the Flyme OS, a Geely enthusiast club web site suggests.

Meizu could be looking at solutions exterior the cellphone area, much too. Its handsets commanded considerably less than 1% of the Chinese sector in the initial four months of 2022, Wang notes. The corporation, which was founded in 2003, reached a China sector share of approximately 17% in 2017 in advance of falling at the rear of other Chinese brand names. Meizu claims it now has 600 retail shops moreover 1,000 staff.

The smartphone developer’s chairman, Shen Ziyu, has been quoted stating his company and Geely imagine they can come across customers by offering differentiated items, especially top quality types.

Smartphones and modern day vehicles exhibit indications of performing in tandem, states Neil Mawston, government director with market study organization Tactic Analytics. “Smartphones are a gateway to the potential automobile,” he suggests. “Smartphones can unlock doors, get started engines, deliver unrestricted material to the head-unit, park the motor vehicle and remotely handle a battery charger.

“The Geely-Meizu offer may possibly be a nod to Apple,” Mawston adds. “If Apple launches an iCar in the upcoming, it will certainly be built-in with the Apple iphone, iPad, Watch, and any VR (digital truth) or AR (augmented fact) glasses. Geely could be smarter than we recognize.”


Correction: July 16, 2022

An earlier version of this story misstated that Geely, the company, acquired the vast majority stake in Meizu.


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