by Shen Jingting
BEIJING, Oct. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- The explosive growth of China's e-commerce industry has led mobile phone sellers, both at home and abroad, to shift their attention to online channels, and analysts say the change may signal a revolution in the mobile phone industry.
Xiaomi Corp, a Beijing-based mobile phone manufacturer that dreams of success like that enjoyed by Apple Inc, has received a lot of attention by selling devices through the Internet since Aug 16, 2011 - the date that Xiaomi introduced its first handset model. Xiaomi is the first major Chinese mobile phone company that has adopted e-commerce channels as its major product distribution platform.
By Aug 16, the company had sold 3.52 million Mi-One devices, the first generation of Xiaomi mobile phones. Seven out of every 10 Mi-One were purchased online, according to the company.
After Xiaomi's huge success in online marketing, most mobile phone brands in the Chinese market have thronged to the e-commerce market to compete for Web buyers.
"All of a sudden, you find mobile phone brands acting like sharks, rushing into the online venue because they smell blood," said Deng Kuibin, deputy general manager of SINO Market Research Co.
Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world's second-largest telecom equipment maker, which in recent years looked for the terminal business to be its new revenue driver, launched a business-to-customer e-commerce website (www.vmall.com) in March to sell its own consumer electronics, especially smartphones.
In early July, the Shenzhen-based company introduced the 2,499-yuan ($397) Ascend D1, the first Huawei smartphone that can be purchased only online. In addition to Huawei's Vmall.com, customers can find the product on 360buy.com and Alibaba Group's Tmall.com as well.
Seeing the great potential of online channels, Huawei even set up an e-commerce business unit this year.
Huawei aims to ship 60 million smartphones across the globe in 2012, with its total mobile phone shipment reaching 100 million units during the period, said Wan Biao, CEO of Huawei Device Co Ltd, a mobile phone subsidiary of Huawei.
"We have seen e-commerce rising as a very important way for mobile phone sales, and Huawei will take further steps in developing the e-commerce business," Wan told China Daily.
ZTE Corp, the world's fourth-largest mobile phone vendor by shipments, will earn 300 million yuan ($47.6 million) in revenue from selling mobile phones online this year, up from 10 million yuan last year, said He Shiyou, the company's executive vice-president.
ZTE started to use e-commerce channels to promote mobile phone sales in 2010, He said.
Taiwan-based HTC Corp, which officially entered the Chinese mainland market two years ago, has lowered its target of constructing 4,000 branded counters in China by the end of this year. Ray Yam, president of HTC China, said the company slowed the pace of opening brick-and-mortar stores because it noticed the significant rise of e-commerce sales on the mainland.
"More people are turning to the Internet for mobile phone purchases, which forced us to change our marketing strategy," Yam said. HTC is going to have about 3,000 branded counters by year-end, reduced greatly from the previous goal of 4,000.