Geely's Founder invests in smartphone maker Meizhu

A company established by Li Shufu, Founder of China’s largest private carmaker Geely, is acquiring a 79.01% stake in domestic smartphone maker Meizu. The value of the deal remains unknown. Hubei Xingji Shidai Technology Co, set up by Li in September, agreed to purchase stakes from two of Meizu’s shareholders. Li owns an over 57.8% stake in the company, which has a registered capital of CNY715 million, according to Tianyancha, a corporate information provider. Established in 2003, Meizu was once one of China’s best-known smartphone brands but has in recent years lost ground to local rivals including Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo. “There is a close connection in technologies within intelligent vehicle cockpits and smartphone software technologies,” said Li in a statement. He said smartphones and other mobile devices allow users to enjoy the fruits of innovation “in the quickest manner possible” and can also act as pathways to wider technological applications in vehicles.

Beginning with United States-based Tesla, both electric and gasoline-powered automakers across the world have made big touchscreens a must in their models. Via Bluetooth and 5G, the vehicles’ onboard operating systems now allow drivers and passengers to do on the dashboard displays whatever they can do on their smartphones, from watching videos, making phone calls and playing music. “The major trend in the near future is to create user ecosystems across borders and provide users with a more convenient, smarter and seamlessly connected multiscreen experience,” Li said. Xingji Shidai, based in Wuhan, Hubei province, won two patents for smartphone design in April, but it does not yet have a specific timetable for product development and launches. The company said it will increase investment in research and development and does not rule out the possibility of acquisitions and joint development.

Geely said Xingji Shidai can make use of the carmaker’s experience in design, R&D, manufacturing, industrial chain integration, smart vehicles, software development and global infrastructure, including its planned low-orbit satellite network. Zhang Xiang, Auto Analyst at the North China University of Technology, said the infotainment content available on dashboard displays and user experiences are becoming key differentiators. “Smartphones and smart vehicles can be part of the same big mobile internet system, so it does make a difference for automakers to explore the smartphone segment,” Zhang said, as reported by the China Daily.