Gree Electric, one of the largest air conditioner manufacturers in China, which tried to break into the smartphone market and “easily bypass” Xiaomi in the middle of the last decade, is finally restricting the smartphone business. According to the SCMP portal, the company, which is based in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai, is rumored to have dissolved a key department responsible for the smartphone business – it employed 100 people at its peak.
Responding to news that the company was ending its smartphone business, the company said on Saturday that research and development in the area was underway.
The air conditioner maker first spoke about its smartphone ambitions in 2015, when the company’s chairman, one of China’s most famous businesswomen Dong Mingzhu, said Gree could “easily beat” Xiaomi in the smartphone market. At the time of publication in 2015, the first smartphones were being produced with Dong’s photo as the splash screen. In addition, she said at a shareholders’ meeting in June last year that Gree smartphones are as good as the iPhone.
However, the company’s corresponding products did not make it into mass production, its products lagged disastrously behind Oppo, Vivo, Huawei and Xiaomi in terms of sales. It is known that the official Gree smartphone website is no longer available and there are only two models left for sale on the main website. Finally, since April 2020, the public WeChat account of Gree’s smartphone business has not been updated, and the smartphone business has not been mentioned at all in the 2022 financial report.
The completion of smartphones comes at a time when China’s mobile market is already struggling — according to Canalys, China’s smartphone shipments fell 11% in the first quarter to 67.6 million units, the lowest since March 2013, at the end of 2022 the iPhone 13 the most popular in China. Although China’s economy is gradually recovering from the pandemic, consumer spending has not increased enough to boost smartphone sales. According to experts, the pandemic has influenced shopping behavior in the medium or even long term. According to some reports, global spending on smartphones has also declined as shoppers prefer to use their devices for longer.