A subsidiary of leading Chinese automaker Geely has recently become the sole shareholder of Meizu, a Zhuhai-based smartphone company, as shown by public business inquiry platforms on December 30. The former shareholders of Meizu, including firm founder Jack Wong, Telling Communication Holding Co., Ltd. and other companies, have withdrawn.
In July of 2022, Xingji Technology, a mobile devices company founded by Geely’s Chairman Eric Li, signed a contract to acquire a 79.09% controlling stake in Meizu. According to the Xingji Times, after the strategic investment in Meizu, the company aims to become the world’s first ecosystem technology company that owns multi-terminal, full scenario and immersive core technologies. It will be devoted to the R&D of high-end smartphones, XR products and wearable smart devices, as well as ecological construction.
In September, Xingji Technology announced that it will launch a consumer mobile phone which can be directly connected to low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The phone will support 5G, LEO satellite communication and near-field communication (NFC) to achieve global coverage and is expected to be officially released in 2023.
Geely has already started its layout in the field of mobile phones. Xingji Technology was founded in 2019 and has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Wuhan Economic and Technological Development Zone with a total investment of over 10 billion yuan ($1.44 billion). Geely previously stated that “it will give full play to the long-term accumulated experience of Geely and Volvo ecosystems in the fields of design, R&D, high-end intelligent manufacturing, and industrial chain management, as well as the global layout advantages such as the LEO satellite network under construction.”
The functions of cars are gradually changing and expanding. According to a report released by China EV 100, a thinktank for EV development, automobiles will replicate the intelligent evolution path of mobile phones, taking the human-computer interaction change in cockpit as the starting point and superimposing the wave of automatic driving. Cars are changing from travel tools to the next generation of intelligent terminals.
However, it is not easy for car companies to enter the mobile phone field, which is already a competitive market. Some Chinese car companies seem to understand the difficulties, and have made it clear that their intention is not to achieve commercial success, but to increase selling points for cars.
William Li, CEO of Chinese new energy maker NIO, which also announced that it would develop mobile phone products, once bluntly said, “NIO‘s mobile phones do not aim at commercial success. The company mainly wants to give users a good car-machine interconnection experience, and it may even give customers mobile phones as a gift.” However, there is a problem that if the mobile phones made by car companies can’t be recognized, it is not known whether they can become the selling points of car companies when there is more and more selectivity for smartphones.