Siemens and Ningbo Bird will jointly develop certain handsets, the two companies announced today. I saw some of the Bird phones in India – they are pretty slick looking but what prevented me from buying one – well they don’t make adapters for the American market and UI sucked. Siemens is going to help lick that problem. Ningbo will use more Siemens components and sell its brand internationally and I think it is clear that the two are taking on Motorola and Nokia in China. Earlier, Alcatel had sold its business to China’s second-largest handset maker, TCL Communications.
I think these two developments are a clear sign, that the handset business is becoming darwinian and the price pressures are going to become a nightmare for guys like Motorola and Nokia who are charging a premium for their brand name. Koreans are getting better at playing the brand game, and are quite wily when it comes to pricing as well. I think Moto and Nokia are going to be squished from both sides – Koreans on top, and Chinese from below.