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The first concept store of Infinix brand under Transsion in Morocco Photo: Courtesy of Transsion
While top Chinese smartphone-makers like Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo have all gained footholds in Africa, China's Transsion Holdings, a little-known handset producer with few Chinese users, has taken the crown as "king of Africa's mobile phone market."
Data from research firm IDC showed that the Shenzhen-headquartered company held a 48.71 percent share of Africa's smartphone market last year. Industry insiders said that the Chinese company's focus on newly emerging markets along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and their innovative ability to cater to local consumers' demands are behind Transsion's success on the continent.
"In the past, firms that did business in Africa and South Asia did not spend too much on research and development (R&D), but in fact, emerging markets require more R&D efforts under the framework of the BRI," Zhu Zhaojiang, the founder and chairman of Transsion, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
One of the "killer" functions of mobile phones made by Transsion is the "beauty camera" designed for darker skin, which offers camera exposure calibration for Africans based on artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning technology.
"Most smartphones [sold in Africa] cannot accurately detect a dark-colored face under dim light. So Transsion analyzed several million African faces [to tailor the function]. We also surveyed local people's top 10 settings for taking photos and, based on the lighting and color temperature of those images, we researched and upgraded the technology," Zhu explained.
Other locally tailored features include multiple SIM slots, as the continent has a lot of telecom service providers, and phones that come with special headsets for playing music.
"If you want to go somewhere to start a business, do not think of making fast money. Only when companies truly respect the local culture and tradition in a market could they gain a foothold," Zhu stressed.
While Transsion helps African consumers to better connect to the world through intelligent terminals, other Chinese companies, in a similar move, have also made significant contributions to the development of basic infrastructure in emerging countries along the BRI, including telecom networks, base stations and submarine optical cables, helping them join the ongoing digitalization drive.
"I'm confident in Chinese firms' ability to expand their business under the drive of the BRI. Chinese firms have the technology and experience to go abroad," Zhu noted.