Chinese smartphone makers flock to Vietnam

VIETNAM - Chinese mobile device makers are strengthening their presence in Vietnam, one of the region's emerging mobile markets.

OPPO and Haier, two leading smartphone manufacturers in China, teamed up with Viettel early this month to expand their distribution networks in the country.

The Vietnamese telecom giant agreed to sell OPPO smartphones nationwide for US$166-$476 (S$205-$589). OPPO's latest N1 smartphones, equipped with a rotating camera, are already on sale.

In joining with Viettel, the Chinese group aims to tap into its partner's expansive network of more than 1,000 outlets throughout the country.

Like OPPO, home appliance giant Haier Group debuted in Viet Nam this month by partnering with Viettel. Haier plans to sell medium-range smartphones at prices suitable for local consumers.

Lenovo, which has the second-highest market share in China, behind only Korea's Samsung, launched six new smartphone models earlier this year.

In April, Huawei Group announced plans to enter the market and sell 400,000 units this year.

Vietnam's appetite for the mobile lifestyle shows no sign of abating, despite soaring inflation rates and increased costs dampening consumer spending across the country.

Consumers bought 5.8 million cell phones in the second quarter, most of them smartphones, according to market research firm IDC.

Smartphones accounted for 32.7 per cent of cell phone sales in the past quarter, up from the 14.7 per cent recorded in the same quarter last year.

Although the introduction of high-end smartphones caused media sensation, it was budget smartphones that attracted buyers and made the market active.

Smartphones still represent a niche market in many Asian countries like Viet Nam, where such devices are financially out of the reach of many.

Yet, in spite of increased living costs, Vietnamese consumers remain dedicated to buying the latest in mobile gadgetry.