Franco-Chinese smartphone Wiko launches its most expensive phone ever and its only 400 Euros

Launching its latest product at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, French-Chinese company Wiko, unveiled the WiM, a 5.5 inch smartphone that can take images in RAW format (without loss in quality) and shoot ultra-high-definition video. Offering the latest technology, such as dual camera with Sony sensors and a 16-Megapixel front facing camera for selfies, fingerprint sensor, and the latest version of Android Nougat, the phone is the most expensive Wiko has released to date. However, it costs only EURO399.99 (US$424.89).

Part of Wiko’s charm is the company’s dedication to affordable technology. According to their website Wiko strives to achieve the right balance between technology, design, quality and price and this has helped the company corner the mid-level smartphone market in Europe. Wiko has maintained affordable prices across its range, with phones selling between 55 to 200 Euros (US$58 – $211) but with the launch of WiM, Wiko reveals its plans into upscale products. This does not mean an end to their lower scale smartphones, however, as the company will continue to produce lower-end phones as well as upper. Wiko CEO, Michel Assadourian said “we must never forget where we come from, who we are, and we must not take ourselves for who we are not.” Good advice, as this has been the key to their success.

10 Million Phones Sold Globally in 2016

Creating phones that are affordable, but still maintain technological advances has seen Wiko run up the market ladder. Founded in Marseille, France in 2011, Wiko is now present in over 30 countries and last year sold more than 10 million phones globally. Since 2015, that’s an increase of 2 million, but is actually 5 million short of Wiko’s sales target of 15 million announced at Challenges at the Mobile World Congress in 2016. With an increase of 20 percent in sales for 2016, however the company has proved its lasting ability and Wiko has simply postponed the 15 million sales target to 2017.

Asian Know-How with a French Touch

Backed by Chinese mobile manufacturer Tinno Mobile Technology, which also holds 95 percent of Wiko’s shares, the Franco-Chinese brand is a mix of Asian know-how and French marketing, Mr Assadourian explains. With a flood of cheap Chinese phones in the market, Wiko has kept up appearances by cultivating its French origins. According to ZD Net, Wiko’s ‘French touch’ is an important factor behind the company’s success. In France buying products with a ‘made in France’ tag, is a point of pride and for the non-French, this tag has connotations of quality, which ‘made in China’ does not.

According to research analyst, George Jijiashvili at CCS Insight, only 65 people working for Wiko are actually from Marseille and only four of those people are engineers. Mr Jijiashvili explains that Wiko smartphones are made in China and Tinno Mobile Technology is responsible for most design and product functions as well as owning majority shares. Wiko is not then ‘made in France,’ but rather marketed from France and made in China.

Being made in China is not a dismissal of quality, however. According to market firm IDC, global smartphone figures show that Chinese smartphone manufacturers are at the top of their game. Most companies use Chinese manufacturers and according to IDC Research Manager Melissa Chau, it is the Chinese vendors who are ushering emerging market consumers into smartphone use.

Clever Marketing Pays Off

Ranked second after Samsung in the open market in France last year and in the top five for Western Europe by market research firm GfK, Wiko’s products remain highly anticipated. Blending high hardware specifications and chic design with affordable prices, Wiko’s popularity is not only based on its ‘made in France’ tag. The company also doesn’t spend money on elaborate advertising campaigns, relying instead on word of mouth. A company spokesperson said that ‘bloggers and geeks’ were courted to spread interest in the company when they launched their first Android smartphone back in 2012. A marketing scheme that seems to be paying off.

Since those humble beginnings Wiko has launched some 35 different smartphones, a phablet called Slide, its first LTE smartphone called Wiko Wax, and of course, the WiM. However, plans to go even further into upscale products are being discussed. “We are making available smartphone technologies at 600 euros,” said Mr Assadourian at this year’s Mobile World Congress. Upgrades to current products are also happening as well as a foray into wireless headphones and smartphone payment systems. With clever marketing and low cost products, Wiko just might make it to the top five in smartphone sales by 2020, as Mr Assadourian announced a year earlier.

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