Chinese companies used to be able to make some serious cash by creating a decent iPhone clone and then selling it at a price that most people could afford, but these days, the actual iPhone is within the price range of an ever-growing number of Chinese consumers. Since more and more people are choosing to go for the real things, creating iPhone clones isn’t nearly as lucrative a business as it used to be, something that Dakele, one of the pioneers of this business model, proved on Monday when it announced that it’s throwing in the towel.
Chinese smartphone maker Dakele has collapsed. CEO Ding Xiuhong broke that news himself on his Weibo account Monday evening after months of speculation that the company was headed towards the drain. You probably don’t recognize the name Dakele, but its death may mark the end of an era. The company was founded on the same basic principle as Xiaomi: if you can make a good-quality smartphone and offer it at a surprisingly low price, people will buy it. They’ll be even more excited by it if you can link it to Apple in some way. For Dakele, the Apple link was in the design itself. Its phones were accused of being iPhone clones, and it’s not difficult to see why. But at least they were good clones: the company is widely credited with having made the best iPhone 6 clone money could buy. So what killed Dakele? Frankly, having a good-quality, low-cost smartphone simply isn’t enough to win you customers in the Chinese smartphone market these days. While it worked in the early days of Xiaomi, when real iPhones were a luxury item and smartphone penetration was low, these days everybody in major cities has a smartphone, and the middle class has grown enough that Apple’s uber-expensive iPhone is consistently among China’s top sellers.