First Click: the great rectangles of China
April 14th, 20152
Why spend $600 on a name-brand phone when you can spend less than half for a no-name model? Both run the same version of Android, feature the same display and internal componentry, and same rectangular design. Hell, they’re even made by the same workers on the same assembly lines.
Looking at leaked images and specs for LG’s new G4 handset makes me wonder if the company is capable of mounting a defense to the commodification of smartphones. The market is being flooded with inexpensive Chinese phones of reasonable quality from brands like Letv, Oppo, Subor, Vivo, OnePlus, Coolpad, and more established names like Xiaomi, Huawei, and of course, Lenovo / Motorola.
The rise of the great Chinese rectangle was inevitable after a decade of contract manufacturing: China owns the supply lines, the manufacturing and assembly lines, and even the rare-earth minerals. It was only a matter of time until the legions of workers shifted from reverse engineering existing devices to building their own original designs.
Two hundred years ago the US, like China today, was a hotbed of piracy and technology theft. Japan, too, after World War II. Both countries rose to economic dominance by playing it fast and loose with intellectual property rights.
Question is: can Apple, Samsung, LG, and HTC survive when China does make the leap from smartphone copier to inventor?
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