China Mobile (NYSE:CHL; HKG:0941), as the world’s biggest mobile telco by subscriber figures, often demands dozens of phone makers do a little dance, and it selects a few of them to come back to its hotel room and engage in a bit of hardware cooperation. So to speak. It’s actually called the quarterly TD-SCDMA handset tender. And reports in the Chinese media suggest that the winners this time are ZTE, Haier, T-Smart, and Konka – all of which will produce one affordable 3G phone for China Mobile, with as many as six million perhaps being ordered in total this quarter.
That’s a lot of units to shift, making it a valuable boost to the (usually) local phone brands who take part and get selected. Lenovo didn’t make the cut this time round. ZTE has already done a lot for China Mobile’s 3G subscriber figures with the likes of its budget ZTE U880, also now as the ZTE Blade (pictured above). Haier is not well known as a phone brand, but has been pushing into mobile a lot more since last year. T-Smart and Konka, meanwhile, are much smaller gadget makers that might only be familiar to very low-budget phone buyers – Konka being notorious as a sometime maker of Nokia rip-offs, helped by the very Nokia-like font in its brand logo.
The same report suggests that Chinese chipmaker Spreadtrum (NASDAQ:SPRD) will be a big winner in this new China Mobile order, with its TD-SCDMA budget chipset thought to be powering the four chosen handsets. Last year we looked at how Spreadtrum’s new ARM 9 600MHz processor would likely help all three of China’s telcos roll out made-to-order, low-price Android smartphones to boost their not-too-stellar rates of 3G adoption. Currently, up to 2012 Q1, China Mobile has 59.56 million on its TD-SCDMA 3G network, with China Unicom (using the more global WCDMA frequency) close behind on 48.86 million.
[Source: Sina Tech - article in Chinese]