CEO William Li: NIO Plans to Launch a New Smartphone Every Year

On July 28, William Li, CEO of new energy automobile firm NIO, met with users in Fuzhou, Fujian province. When interviewed by users at the luncheon, he talked about the progress of NIO’s smartphone manufacturing.

Li said that NIO‘s smartphone business is advancing, though he wouldn’t compare it with companies that have sold 100 million smartphones or more. He mentioned that It is not difficult to make a smartphone now, but it is still very challenging to build a good one. What NIO needs to do at present is very simple, that is, to build a good smartphone for NIO users, and to launch one smartphone every year, like Apple does.

At the end of February this year, domestic media outlets broke the news that NIO had initially set up a smartphone business department. Yin Shuijun, the former president of Meitu smartphone, will take the lead in NIO‘s smartphone business, and the team is in the stage of recruiting. On March 31 of this year, Li confirmed in a video interview that NIO had plans to make smartphones, and said that it was still in the research stage.

As for why NIO wants to make smartphones, Li has responded before, saying that there is feedback from NIO users about whether there is a smartphone that can be better connected with their vehicles, which prompted the company to undertake some research in the field. He said, “Smartphones are now the most important device for NIO users to connect with their cars. Not building a smartphone means that the keys of our home are not in our own hands. Take NIO users as an example, more than 50% of them use iPhones, but Apple’s ecology is very exclusive to the automobile industry, and now it does not open its interface, which makes NIO a passenger.”

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However, the smartphone market has not performed well recently. According to the data of China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), from January to June 2022, the total shipments of smartphones in the domestic market totaled 136 million units, down 21.7% year-on-year. Moreover, in the first quarter of this year, the products of the top seven manufacturers including OPPO, vivo, Huawei and Xiaomi accounted for 96.2% of the market share, while Meizu, a smartphone brand acquired by Geely Chairman’s venture company, accounted for only 0.01% of the market last year.