Farewell to Idealism for Domestic Mobile Phones

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Source: Principal View
Author: Wanfang
01
It can’t go on like this.
With this idea in mind, Yang Yan and Bai Yongxiang broke into Huangzhang’s house one night during the Spring Festival holiday in 2014 and stayed overnight.
After that, Huang Zhang reappeared in the office for a long time to come. “When there is a huge crisis for the Meizu, I will certainly appear. If Meizu is gone, I don’t want to be.
Before that, Huang Zhang had spent many years of unrestrained life. At home, he likes to watch movies, listen to songs, grow vegetables and drink. Occasionally, he takes his family out on a yacht to play, but he has hardly ever been out of Guangdong Province.
“I came back to make stocks. With stocks, aunts in the canteen can afford to buy houses,” Huang Zhang said at the internal meeting after the Spring Festival.
Later, under his leadership, Meizu finally carried out a more market-oriented reform.
In the year when Huang Zhang, an idealist, returned to the market, there was another of his kind in the mobile phone market: Liu Zuohu.
For Liu Zuohu, the air of this year is full of victory.
The beginning of a plus cell phone is perfect. On May 28, 2014, Yijia Mobile launched its first generation of mobile phones, with the slogan of “No Investigation” full of idealism. The major international media of the New York Times and the Guardian praised it for fear of missing a black horse.
Liu Zuohu’s greatest panic at that time was due to the fear that supply was in short supply. At first, only 200,000 mobile phones were prepared, but the market demand was strong, so an additional 1 million orders were placed temporarily.
In that year, Liu Zuohu himself felt that a plus was too good. “It seems that every overseas media comment on you very well, you really feel very good, and even many foreigners come to ask for the initiative to join, do not pay the kind of salary, as long as they give him basic life assurance.
Photo: Liu Zuohu, CEO of Yijia Mobile Phone
When Liu Zuohu “complained” that he could not read his overseas resume, Huang Zhang was facing the problem of executive turnover.
He once thought that high salary could keep people, let everyone work well in Meizu and have a good life. Even Ma Lin, former vice president of Meizu and director of UI design, joined Le TV with some directors and senior managers, he did not feel too improper.
It was not until Bai Yongxiang showcased his willingness to leave with him, the former MP3 engineer who founded Meizu with Huang Zhang in 2002, that he realized more or less that it was very difficult for Meizu to gain the trust and perseverance of all of you by keeping all the stocks in his own hands for a long period of family operation.
After thinking about it, Huang Zhang decided to take out 20% of the stock and options painfully and distribute them to the company’s employees and executives. When he saw Aunt Procter & Gamble, he couldn’t help saying, “I’m going to get stocks. This year, besides the year-end bonus, there will be stocks. You’ll depend on them when you buy a house later.”
Unfortunately, a few days after that internal meeting, he said he was not feeling well and was no longer in the company.
Li Nan thought that was enough. After readjusting the structure, he finally found his place again. He also found Shen Nanpeng, Guo Guangchang, Zhou Hongzhen, and Wang Jian, and finally helped Meizu talk about $590 million in financing.
Picture: Li Nan, a former CMO and senior vice president of Meizu Technologies
However, Li Nan may not have thought that, as a meritorious Minister of the Meizu’s financial rescue, he was ridiculed by Huang Zhang four years later with a phrase “money lost” and eventually broke up.
Four years later, in July 2019, Li Nan had almost ceased to appear in her personal office, which became a temporary meeting room for everyone.
Speaking of Meizu, he said, “Maybe Meizu has a chance to operate directly, retail, chain-store Gardo brands, or to segment the mobile phone market, but they are not in the mainstream. There is no way to do that.”
02
Liu Zuohu began to become anxious and things were changing in a direction he had never expected.
In 2015, one plus two mobile phones appeared in a completely different market reaction from the previous one. At first, Liu wanted to win by releasing one plus one. In 2015, he launched two mobile phones, two systems and one headset, and even opened 45 experience stores offline.
He was so anxious that, in his words, “it was a shameful thing for manufacturers to take off their pants and compete so that they could make money in this industry.”
Even the Meizu, who always preferred Zhuhai, began to promote the market after accepting Alibaba’s investment and launched the airplane-sea tactics, with sales jumping from 4.4 million to more than 20 million.
So during that period, Liu Zuohu was most anxious when he drove home after working overtime every day. He kept thinking: What’s wrong with the addition? With the rapid iteration and competition of the manufacturer, he is not sure whether there will be a chance to win back after the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The same sense of anxiety surrounds Luo Yonghao.
The price war lasted for more than a year. In the summer of 2016, Luo Yonghao felt very sad. Before he had a free lunch with CTO Qian Chen, he had met a large number of investors, but the results were very little.
Qian Chen recalled that after dinner, Luo Yonghao said enviously that you could retire, but I still insist.
During the dinner, an investor called and decided to give the hammer a sum of money. Luo Yonghao’s eyes suddenly rekindled the light, and he felt that everything seemed to have a turning point.
During that time, Luo Yonghao also made various excuses to go to Shanghai on business in order to meet a person.
Wu Dezhou, the former head of Huawei Glory Product Line, had only met Luo Yonghao at the hammer’s press conference. He also kept an appreciative but wait-and-see attitude towards the hammer. Luo Yonghao visited the door again and again, sincerely invited him, and finally touched him. The last time Luo Yonghao showed such sincerity, it still appeared on Qian Chen’s invitation.
Wu Dezhou added a hammer.

The financing was not achieved, but the hammer soon ushered in a good time – in hindsight, it was the nearest hammer cell phone to success. Almost at the same time as announcing Wu Dezhou as the new CTO, Hammer Technologies launched the M-Series mobile phone, which has a moderate appearance and no new design aesthetics as the previous T-Series.
It can be said that this is an idealist compromise.
The Hammer M series is strikingly similar to Li Nan’s later dominant Phantom Blue: low price, affordable, and in line with the mainstream market demand.
During that time, they became the main products to save Hammer Technologies and Meizu shipments: M series shipped more than 1 million units, several times as many as T1 + T2 phones combined. Meizu Blue’s achievements are even more remarkable. From 2014 to 2015, Meizu’s total annual sales exceeded 20 million units, of which Meizu Blue accounted for 70%.
Figure: Hammer Mobile M1
When Hammer and Meizu took back their past pride and grabbed market share with radical sales strategies, Liu Zuohu chose to slow down.
In 2016, he cut down all 45 offline experience stores he founded in his first year.
“If today’s off-line is very hot, I’ll go after the line. Tomorrow’s on-line is very hot. If you always follow the line and never catch up, you’ll die. Living is the most important thing for us, “said Liu Zuohu. Survival guarantees the long-term survival of a mobile phone company better than short-term good reviews.
Now it seems that Liu Zuohu’s timely stop is right. After all, Wu Dezhou’s practice did not really save the hammer from danger – Luo Yonghao’s later “release” brought the start-up company into the mire.
03
Standing at the beginning of the story, the idealist entrants had good cards in their hands.
When Meizu M8 was launched in December 2009, there was a long line at almost every store. The two-year waiting price of the home-made mobile phone is only half that of the iPhone 3GS, but its performance is better. It sells 100,000 units in two months and more than 500 million units in five months.
Figure: Meizu M8
The mobile phone, which made Huang Zhang famous in World War I, was later sued by Apple for infringement and stopped production in December 2010, but Microsoft China Research Institute put it in its permanent collection in the headquarters display cabinet.
When M8 was released, it was only two years before Jobs launched the iPhone, and that was the closest time Huang Zhang was to Jobs.
Some people in the circle have found that Huang Zhang already has Jobs-style geek temperament:
He will hold the prototype of Meizu in his home for a month, and then make suggestions on how to modify the radian of his back.
He could even demolish the house to see if there was a problem with the power cord, so he replaced it with a power line worth more than 100,000 yuan.
Later, he felt that the floor would resonate, and he changed the floor, even the lights, transformers and various lines.
When repairing Meizu’s office building, the floor of the canteen was smashed three times because Huang Zhang was not satisfied with color matching. The villas in my own house were all pushed back because they didn’t do well in accordance with their own requirements.
These details were later enjoyed by the media, and Luo Yonghao enjoyed similar treatment.
The paranoid can see even one pixel difference in the poster, and calls his subordinates to buy medicine after he finds cockroaches in his office, and a minute later tells them you need to go to the third store on the corner.
Keep playing in another minute. Do you know where you want to sprinkle it? Half an hour later, Luo Yonghao appeared in the company and sprayed cockroach medicine himself.
After the gradual penetration of the iPhone in the Chinese market, Jobs was “god-given” in the scientific and technological circle. This worship became more and more serious after his death. It is reflected in reality that many people subconsciously hope that China will have its own “Jobs”.
So when Luo Yonghao, an English teacher, announced that he was making mobile phones, there were many people who laughed at him and supported him silently. The latter once supported his dream with practical actions, including investors like Tang Yan and ordinary users who waved flags and shouted for it on Weibo.
Huang Zhang and Luo Yonghao have almost all the characteristics of Jobs, but unfortunately, Jobs’idealistic success has failed to reappear on them.
In contrast, Liu Zuohu is obviously more grounded in gas.
He is very low-key and seldom contributes in public or in interviews with the media. Most of the time, the OPPO-born engineer did not design directly. He was trying to find the most suitable designer, at least through a meal of drinking and running-in to achieve the tacit understanding between the two sides.
“On weekends or other breaks, I ask them to go out and drink, get drunk and come back. There can be disputes and challenges at work, but in the end we must still drink together so that we can make good products together, “Liu said.
He never liked to be labelled as an idealist, which was a slightly derogatory statement to him.
“Pure idealist, then become Don Quixote, in this society is impossible. Don’t use your arms as a car, that’s a fool, “Liu Zuohu said in an interview.
04
Luo Yonghao is not blind to his own problems.
Hammer phones have little say in the supply chain, especially after Luo Yonghao’s impractical critics. Making the M series is his attempt to prove that he can make millions of mobile phones, so that he can get a higher valuation in the next round of financing.
“If you can’t reach the scale of tens of millions, you will always be exhausted in the supply chain and often have problems.” He once lamented, “You can’t be small and beautiful in this industry.”
Huang Zhang also returned repeatedly. Every time I see that conspicuous nanny car in front of the company, Meizu employees know that the boss is back.
Picture: Meizu Zhuhai Building
He once blamed the crisis on Meizu’s loss of design initiative. Huang Zhang did not have much interest in Li Nan’s whole product line, aircraft-sea tactics, improving shipments and so on, although their encounter was full of regret.

In order to reproduce the glory of M8, Huang Zhang put forward the concept of creating a dream machine. In recent years, Meizu has adjusted its structure several times and made several waves of layoffs. Its main direction is pro 7 and later Meizu 16, and it has basically stopped Meizu Blue’s operation.
Melanlanie is dominated by Li Nan. Although it was once the most prominent product to boost sales, it differs greatly from Huang Zhang’s ideal mobile phone in industrial design and aesthetics. In addition to Meilan, the projects originally promoted by Li Nan were stopped one by one. At one time, he wanted to replicate the millet ecological chain model, but within the Meizu, four teams failed to do so.
In the battlefield of mobile phones, Huang Zhang and Luo Yonghao are labeled as idealistic losers. No one knows whether this is temporary or permanent.
They are not the only ones who are disappointed.
A few years ago, there were few players left who were inspired by the wave of machine building. They used to be ambitious about mobile technology evolving into “assembly” mode, Samsung’s screen, Qualcomm’s chip, Sony’s camera… These components add up to produce products, but the threshold of the supply chain is much higher than they imagined. Many problems can not be solved with money.
Moreover, hot money is disappearing.
Mobile phone battlefield has changed from blue sea and red sea to bitter sea, and now it has become a few games. Lei Jun once lamented that mobile phone innovation has entered a bottleneck period. Before the emergence of the next generation of revolutionary terminal products, the competition of mobile phone industry is the competition of operation efficiency, patent technology and overseas market.
These are not the expertise of idealists. Undoubtedly, Meizu and Hammer were expelled to the edge of the battlefield.
This is a situation that Huang Zhang and Luo Yonghao can hardly change on their own.
Li Nan later commented that Huang Zhang was wrong about 80% of Meizu’s content in the media and public information. “I think the outside world has a very wrong perception, all this is caused by Huang Zhang, but in fact it is not.”
Zhu Xiaomu left the hammer when he also said that Luo Yonghao’s decision-making can be understood, many times an enterprise unsustainable is not necessarily the founder’s problem.
But to be sure, in the mobile battlefield, the idealistic personal hero model is no longer viable.
Profit becomes the survival proposition of all players. When Liu Jiangfeng returned to the Cool School, he once lamented, “99% of the enterprises that burn money are not good.” The essence of business is to make money. When the industry’s outlet is past and the capital is tight, only profit can be exchanged for the possibility of breaking out in the next stage.
The data are also telling the hard story.
According to the data of CITIC, the shipment of smartphones in China from January to March 2019 was 7.3072 million, down 10.7% from the same period last year. And the future will only get worse – the smartphone market is no longer an area for entrepreneurs to start from scratch.
But Liu Zuohu survived with one plus, and even gained a place in the global market. According to the Counterpoint report, in the second quarter of 2019, the flagship One Plus 7 Pro gained 26% market share of India’s ultra-high-end mobile phone market (about 4,500 yuan or more) within more than a month after its launch.
Liu Zuohu attributed it to conservatism. In his New Year’s speech in 2019, he said:
“The mobile phone industry has changed a lot in the past five years, but we are living well. The core is that we are relatively conservative.” This is a little insight into doing business. Every day, you will encounter many temptations. How can you resist the temptation and make no mistakes? It’s easy to say and not easy to do.
Of course, the supply chain guarantee in OPPO system is also an important support for survival.
The future is still full of variables. Even the head manufacturer is facing the possibility of re-shuffling at all times. The arrival of 5G may bring about a new wave of change, with the top five companies likely to be reordered.
During this period, the space belonging to these idealists has been gradually narrowed.
But they still haven’t stopped tossing.
Liu Zuohu will continue to “not do it”, Luo Yonghao has started to develop the electronic cigarette project, Huang Zhang will continue to make every effort on the Meizu.
They did not stop, and to some extent they succeeded, and were packaged as cases that the public enjoyed, because the losers would not leave their names in history.
(Statement: This article only represents the author’s point of view, not Sina’s position.)