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经济学人:手机 廉价智能手机的崛起

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Mobile phones

The rise of the cheap smartphone
As smartphones reach the masses, a host of vendors are eager to serve them
NEXT month Britons will have yet more smartphones to choose from, when devices from Wiko, a two-year-old French company, go on sale. Wiko will be hoping that its phones, which in France start at around 70, prove as popular across the Channel as at home. In 2013 nearly 7% of French first-time smartphone-buyers plumped for a Wiko, says Carolina Milanesi of Kantar Worldpanel, a research firm. In early 2014 the firm claims to have been the second-biggest vendor in France.
下个月,英国人民将有更多的智能手机可供选择,因为下个月Wiko的产品就要在英国上市销售了。Wiko是法国的一家成立仅两年的公司,它的产品在法国的最低售价只有70欧元。Wiko希望能够在英国可以复制它在本土的成功。据市场调研公司Kantar Worldpanel的卡罗琳娜·米兰内塞称,在2013年,在法国首次购买的智能手机的人群中,7%选择了Wiko。今年年初,Wiko宣称其已成为法国第二大的手机厂商。
Wiko is not alone. In both rich countries and poor ones, cheaper smartphone brands are making inroads. Demand for pricey phones, mainly in developed economies, is slowing, but that for less expensive devices is booming. People buying their first smartphones today, perhaps to replace a basic handset, care less about the brand and more about price than the richer, keener types of a few years ago.

They are likely to pay less for a nice new smartphone than they did for their shabby old device, because the cost of making smartphones has tumbled. Vendors can buy standardised processors which chip designers such as America's Qualcomm, the market leader, and competitors such as Taiwan's MediaTek or China's Spreadtrum are scrapping furiously to provide in ever-rising quality at ever-lower prices. They choose cameras, screens and so forth to wrap around the innards, and have phones churned out in Chinese factories. Last year, says Francisco Jeronimo of IDC, another research firm, shipments of smartphones priced below 80 more than quintupled. Devices at under 100 made up one-sixth of the total.

因为制造智能机的成本猛跌的缘故,人们可以以很低的价格买到优秀的新型智能机,甚至比他们那些简陋的旧手机的价格更低。手机产商可以从芯片制造商那里买到标准化的处理器,现在这一行业的竞争极其激烈,行业老大高通和中国的联发科和展讯正竞相以史无前例的低价格提供高质量的产品。接着,他们再选购摄像头、屏幕,然后和连同内部零件一起打包给中国的工厂批量生产。 互联网数据中心的弗朗西斯科·杰洛尼摩称,去年,价格低于80美元的智能机的出货量是上一年的五倍还多;100美元以下的手机占总量的六分之一。
At a global level, the market has fragmented: in 2013, says IDC, the share of smartphone shipments by vendors outside the top five was 40%, twice as much as in 2009. In national markets, local names unfamiliar elsewhere, like Wiko, are prominent. Micromax and Karbonn rank second and third in India, according to IDC. Symphony is thought to have more than half the market in Bangladesh; and Walton, an electronics firm, has branched successfully into smartphones, notes Holger Hussmann of Telenor, a Norwegian mobile operator with interests in Asia and eastern Europe.
从全球的角度来看,智能机市场一家独大的局面正在改变:IDC称,2013年,排名前五之外的智能手机的出货量在总量的40%,是2009年的两倍。而在国内市场,像Wiko这样在国际上不知名的品牌处于主导地位。 IDC的数据显示,Micromax和Karbonn*在印度的销量分居第二、三名。挪威电信的霍尔格·胡斯曼指出,Symphony已占领孟加拉国超过一半的市场;生产电子元器件的Walton也已成功把业务扩展到了职能手机领域。挪威电信是挪威的一家移动运营商,正有意开发亚洲和东欧的市场。
The declining cost of making phones means that buyers are getting more for their money. In 2012, says Mr Jeronimo, 42% of phones priced at less than 80 had a processor faster than 1 gigahertz; by last year 87% did. The proportion of cheap phones with screens more than four inches across went up from less than 8% to 38%. Two years ago the median price of a smartphone was 325. Last year it was 250. This year it may be 200.
The cheapest phones will become cheaper still. At Mobile World Congress, an industry jamboree in Barcelona at the end of February, Mozilla, a non-profit company best known for Firefox, its web browser, announced that smartphones running its operating system, Firefox OS, on Spreadtrum chips would go on sale with a target price of only 25. Mr Hussmann reports that the bill of materials is less than that.
这一降价的趋势还会持续下去。在今年二月末举行的MWC大会上,因火狐浏览器而著称于世的非营利机构Mozilla宣布将发售定价仅为25美元的手机。该手机搭载展讯的芯片,运行Mozilla自己的系统Firefox OS。胡斯曼称手机的制造成本并没有超过25美元。
It is not only at the bottom that competition is intensifying. In China, points out C.K. Lu of Gartner, another research company, OPPO and Vivo, two local brands, both increased their market shares last year despite focusing on phones priced at 2,000 yuan or more. Fancy phones can also polish a brand. Huawei, another Chinese company, has been trying just that; Wiko's top-of-the-range smartphone costs 349.
All this is great for smartphone-buyers everywhere. It is less good news for the market leaders, Apple and Samsung—the only vendors making much money. Apple may be insulated by its operating system and apparently impregnable brand, although it has lately been selling cheaper iPhones. Samsung, which dominates the market for phones running on Google's Android operating system, may be more vulnerable.
The South Korean company suffered a decline in profits late last year. Granted, it makes cheaper devices as well as dearer ones, and it can afford some slimming of its margins. People in poor countries also covet global brands: it has taken share from locals in India. But its problem, Mr Jeronimo says, is that it carries lots of costs, in research and development and in marketing, that cheaper rivals do not. “They are able to provide much better devices, in terms of specs, for a much lower price,” he says. “And this is particularly worrying in developed markets.”
Samsung is doubtless wise to this. Hence its attempt to push beyond the smartphone, into smart watches and wristbands, connected domestic appliances and the business market. Mobile-phone brands have been brittle before: ask Ericsson, HTC, Motorola and Nokia. Samsung has spent bucketloads building its name. It will not want to be usurped by the Wikos of the world.
重点单词   查看全部解释    
unfamiliar ['ʌnfə'miljə]


adj. 不熟悉的

decline [di'klain]


n. 衰微,跌落; 晚年
v. 降低,婉谢

declining [di'klainiŋ]


adj. 下降的,衰落的 动词decline的现在分词

polish ['pɔliʃ]


n. 光泽,上光剂,优雅,精良
v. 擦亮,磨

competition [kɔmpi'tiʃən]


n. 比赛,竞争,竞赛

impregnable [im'pregnəbl]


adj. 无法攻取的,要塞坚固的,难攻陷的

claim [kleim]


n. 要求,要求权;主张,断言,声称;要求物

brittle ['britl]


adj. 易碎的,敏感的,尖利的,冷淡的

symphony ['simfəni]


n. 交响乐

prominent ['prɔminənt]


adj. 杰出的,显著的,突出的




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