Author(s): Peter Bryer
In April, we wrote about the plans of China-based LeTV to enter Western markets with hardware and content (see Daily Insight: Bold Expansion Plans from LeTV). The company's ambitions were to reach Chinese-speaking audiences in the US with content and accompanying phones, and the strategy has been moving forward.
LeTV isn't a brand people are very familiar with outside of Asia. The company is known more for entertainment than its hardware, thanks to its ownership and online distribution of a vast portfolio of Chinese-language media. But LeTV's smart devices are beginning to tell a story as well.
Last week, LeTV reported that it has reached smartphone volume sales of 1 million units after only three months in business with its portfolio of three devices. The company uses its own content and channels to advertise its hardware, and employs flash sales to create a rush of demand. The milestone of 1 million units — apparently mostly in China — is an accelerated accomplishment. It took Xiaomi, for example, a full year to sell 400,000 units.
LeTV smartphone models range from about $230 for the 5.5-inch, MediaTek-powered LeTV One to $465 for the LeTV Max — a high-end device running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. The company also made it clear via Facebook that it's already developing a Snapdragon 820 smartphone.
The company has established two offices in California, and is working on content deals with Hollywood. LeTV's phones aren't yet available in the US, but the company has indicated its intentions through Stateside launch events and awareness campaigns. Certification is pending.
The expanding number of China-based smartphone makers bringing competitively priced, premium devices to the global market is reaching a tipping point — LeTV will join respected Chinese manufacturers such as OnePlus, Opo and Xiaomi. Standardized operating systems and components combined with outsourcing have enabled the next generation of smartphone competitors. Incumbents will learn that things can get tougher.