Our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service tracked Coolpad ranked the 11th largest smartphone vendor globally in 2012, with 2.6% marketshare. It grew smartphone volume by 108% YoY from 2011, indicating the Shenzhen-based Chinese vendor is ambitious to push into the top 10 club this year.
The company is on the right track to become a 3G smartphone specialist, with an encouraging breakthrough recently also in the North American 4G LTE market. Its first LTE phone at MetroPCS achieved an encouraging start last year.
However, how to further define and implement its overseas strategy, especially in North America and West Europe, remains the key for the rising Chinese brand. We would recommend Coolpad to:
- Launch a decent flagship model with a unified sub-brand (like Samsung Galaxy, Huawei Ascend does) globally;
- Initially target prepaid carriers / customers because prepaid segment is price-sensitive and accessible for Chinese brands;
- Prepare for the potential IPR risks associated with overseas expansion. Coolpad is reportedly have accumulated over 4000 handset related patents at this moment, however, it is still vulnerable to get involved into IPR war. We believe patent swap would be an effective way to ease risks;
- Branding and marketing initiatives are needed to tap into richer customers in developed markets;
- Prepare for the direct competition with Huawei and ZTE in overseas market. Compared with the two rivals, Coolpad exclusively focuses on the smartphone market and lacks synergy among different product lineups. We would recommend Coolpad to further differentiate from rivals with improved hardware designs and more localized services and apps (e.g. social networking);
- Balance volume and profitability. Shifting upwards with more mid- and high-tier models, in order to improve ASP and profit margin, which will ensure the Hong Kong listed-company has sufficient cash on hands for the upcoming overseas expansion.