LeTV & LeEco: the star that risks becoming a meteor

leeco logo

If you have been following us for some time or you were still practical in the Chinese tech universe, surely you will have already heard about it several times LeEco, initially known as LeTV. We are talking about a reality that in a few years of activity has almost immediately succeeded in establishing itself as promising top player in the sector.

However, in recent months the company is giving numerous signals of crisis, demonstrating some weaknesses that could undermine the future. What fate is there for LeEco?

LeEco logo

LeTV, the birth of a new star in the Asian firmament

The project LeTV born from the mind of Jia Yueting, then 30enne entrepreneur from Beijing, initially under the monicker di Le.com, formally referred to as Leshi Network. We are in the 2004, a historical period in which the media slowly began to migrate from TV to the web given the growing interest. Unlike YouTube, born later in 2005, the Yueting platform followed a more canonical style, transposing television / film / sports / music contents from the antenna to the web. The success comes soon, as in 2007 it was the first video service in the world to generate profits and in 2010 it became the first company in the sector to be quoted at the stock exchange.

Time gap, we are straddling the 2014 and the 2015 and it was born Leshi Holdings, a branch of the company that would deal with the production of services and products strictly connected to the contents of Le.com. From this other ribs were born, including LeMusic, music service with audio / video content, e LeMobile, that is what we have then known as LeTV.

Jia Yueting LeEco

Here is therefore that, at the beginning of 2015, on the net we start talking about the first smartphone registered by LeTV, the The 1 X600, to which the major have succeeded Le 1 Pro X800 ed The 1 Max X900. But the phone that made many fall in love was especially the The 1s X500: equipped with the acclaimed Helio X10, mediatek's battle horse at the time, was one of the first examples of "A series technology at the right price"(Cit.), A key philosophy of the cinafonini, starting from Xiaomi to OnePlus.

We are talking about products that, although coming from an emerging company and offered at prices more accessible than the average, presented innovative features and usually prerogative of more famous brands, such as the care of materials and multimedia sector. In short, if we were to award a 2015 award for the most courageous, innovative and quality company, LeTV would be one of the sure candidates.

LeTV The 1S

TV and metamorphosis in LeEco

If there is one thing, however, in which LeTV has never been an example to imitate is theuse of names. Just think of the above LeTV The 1, also called "Le S" and "X600", which succeeded the LeTV Le 1s, also known as “Le X500” (and not “X700”), to which the subsequent Le X800 aka Le 1 Pro or S1 Pro, X900 aka Le 1 Max, S1 Max, The X608 and so on: chaos, and we're only talking about 4 phones! Not to mention the name of the company itself: yes, your products also include smart TVs, but how productive it can be to call yourself LeTV if one of your core business is i smartphone?

If all this confusion were not enough, LeTV has well thought of debuting on US soil on the occasion of the CES 2016 presenting the Le Max Pro X910 (we met at the MWC 2016), or the first smartphone in the world to mount it Snapdragon 820 Qualcomm, succeeding in anticipating with competitors 1-2 months well known as Samsung, LG ed HTC.

Too bad that this smartphone has never officially arrived on the market, demonstrating how this move was only a sort of act of force from LeTV. Not that there is anything strange eh, the market is full of episodes of this type, but the risk that this goes to affect their own credibility in the future it is tangible.

Yes, it was time for the Chinese giant to find a very precise and marked entity. Change of logo and here it is born LeEco!

"The new logo consists of the letters "L" and "E", which is the acronym of LeEco. The four lines that make up the logo each represent one of the four layers that make up the company's ecosystem: Platform, Content, Device and Application.

The 3 colors blue, red and green plus gray, or the sum of the 3 colors, represent the integration of technology, culture and the internet within the company's ecosystem. The point formed by the overlapping of the lines symbolizes the pivot where “EUI” and “Le Fans” match. The connection and interaction between the letters "L" and "E" expresses the constant spirit of breaking boundaries by LeEco, in addition to the synergy of the ecosystem."LeEco executives

leeco le max 2

But it is ad April 2016 that LeEco is definitively renewed, presenting the new range of smartphones including the 2, Le 2 Pro e Le Max 2. We are talking about so competitive terminals, but that they started to suffer competition of the numerous competitors increasingly attentive to the relationship quality / price. It is not a case if the LeEco device best seller during all the 2016 it was just the cheapest of the lot the 2.

Later in the year, two new models will be launched, the Cool1, born from the close collaboration with Coolpad (of which LeEco is the majority shareholder) and the Le Pro 3. The latter, together with the Le Max 2, represented anomalies. Why? The answer is very simple: the presence of the much discussed 20 band.

As we all know, not being used in China, most Chinese companies do not integrate it on their smartphones, as doing so would have a cost and, being products almost entirely destined for China, it would be a waste of money.

LeEco Coolpad Cool 1

LeEco's distress: go out or stay in motherland?

In a world that is so globalized but at the same time so divided, it is important for a company to understand what it is target and calibrate accordingly. From this point of view, we can divide the smartphone sector into 3 macro-categories: those sold practically everywhere (Apple, Samsung, LG and co.), those sold almost only in China (OPPO, Vivo etc.) and those in the middle. And in the latter category, names such as XiaomiMeizuLeEco.

But let's take a step back: from what this is born separation between Asian and international market? This division finds its foundations in two areas: that Commitment and that logistics.

OPPO logo

Speaking of the first, le differences at the social level between the western and the Asian world they inevitably have to impact on trends and relative sales. In the case of smartphones, the devices that in Asia they have more appeal offer large displays, lots of memory (RAM e ROM) and cameras with many mega-pixel, especially the front ones: someone said OPPO e Vivo? It is no coincidence that, for example, Samsung was about to launch the Notes 7 and could launch a S8 with 6 GB di RAM on the eastern market.

If you move to the West, mainly USA ed Europe, the hype for a smartphone is not based solely on specifications, on the contrary. There are other mechanisms, mainly related to marketing, which inevitably influence, shifting mass choices towards other aspects.

huawei scarlett johansson

It is not a case if Huawei but also OnePlus have pushed on the accelerator of the advertising machine, giving life to campaigns and commercials with the likes of Scarlett Johansson or Emily Ratajkowski: because, let's face it, what sells is not the 6 GB of RAM but the fig ... ura, the image of a brand. Seriously, just think about it OPPO, which sells millions of smartphones in China but that when it tried to expand into Europe did not get the desired results.

Moving to the side logistics, it is undeniable that factors such as guarantee, customer support, sales infrastructures and so on play a fundamental role in the choice of prices. If the same smartphone in China costs less than in Europe or the US, there is a reason, indeed, more than one. Different working conditions, legislation regarding patents, certifications and so on.

vivo logo

Global expansion starts: route to India and USA!

Following the aforementioned restyling, LeEco decides to start 2016 to go out of their own borders and officially arrives in India, launching the already existing Le Max and Le 1s and collecting one good success, also because of the technological growth of the country in question. Precisely for this reason the company also decides to open factories and research centers on site and an online branch of LeMall (the owner store) and propose subscription services.

However, the results do not seem to reward society completely, given the recent ones staff cuts in India. Furthermore, analyzing the statistics provided by Antutu, we find no trace of LeEco in the top 10 of most popular smartphone in India, unlike Xiaomi with 7 phones in the ranking.

At the same time, the Yueting company takes an even bigger step a end of 2016 announces the official landing negli United States, one of the most difficult markets in the world for a Chinese company, given the almost absolute predominance of names such as Apple, Samsung, HTC e Motorola. Only Huawei and from poco successful in trying to make a (small) name in the USA too, but there is still a long way to go and this is another story.

As we have said, in markets like these it is not enough to propose high-end specifications, but we must be able to break the mold and propose something more, which in a certain sense affects the heart of the user. This is why the LeEco Ecosystem, a real hi-tech cauldron in which we find products of various kinds such as smartphones, smart TVs, bike ed electric cars, all driven by the software part: the interface EUI and LeCloud. In support of all this comes the news of theacquisition for well 2 billions of dollars of Vizio, thanks to which you can produce multimedia content also for the US market.

All right up to here, right? Actually not really, since things do not seem to go as planned: after only a month Bloomberg reports the words of the same Jia Yueting, who, in a letter inside the company, states that LeEco is suffering more than expected from this expansion, both at a purely economic and organizational level, talking about a company structure that is not yet ready to face the global market, as it lacks some key figures and still poco developed at the corporate level.

After staff cuts, corporate reorganizations e new funds with which to reorganize the budget, not even theAssumption of Richard Ren, former president of Huawei Europe, to mitigate the company's crisis. LeEco then decides to block the sale of their shares, following the reduction in their value, a sign of how changes must necessarily be made.

LeEco, a star without a destination?

In spite of the criticisms received, LeEco decides to take up another project that had rocked in recent years, that is linked to the electric cars. Initially started in synergy with Aston Martin, the project seemed to slow down (it should be discussed again in the 2018), except to recover with the announcement of the project LeSee, the first electric car signed by LeEco.

Again, the whole thing seems to have dissolved into a soap bubble when the company, in collaboration with the US Faraday Future, officially shows al CES 2017 la Faraday Future FF91, an electric car that wants to be a rival to the much better known Tesla.

leeco faraday future electric car

In this regard, it is interesting this article by The Verge in which we see the explanation explained financial situation Faraday Future, in which it is possible to find various similarities with LeEco: unpaid supplies (as well as success for LeEco), corporate instability (like LeEco), not very clear budgets (like LeEco) e various layoffs (ok, you understand).

But what is most common in Faraday Future and LeEco is ambition, both in a positive and negative sense. The need to want to prove to be the best at all costs and end up hurrying up the times, whether it is by launching the first phone with Snapdragon 820, never arrived on the market, or the fastest electric car in the world, which risks never reaching the market and whose record has already been beaten by guess what? Tesla.

leeco america usa

What will be the future at LeEco?

In just a few days, the MWC 2017 in that of Barcelona and among the companies that will attend we find for the first time also LeEco in an official capacity. We have no rumors, no leaks or rumors about it, while we know practically everything about the other competitors we will find at the Catalan fair. Consequently, the feeling is that LeEco may not have anything amazing to show, even if we could be proven wrong by these recent TENAA certifications.

Beyond this, the risk is that, as per Xiaomi with the presentation of the Mi 5 at the MWC 2016, this may be the umpteenth wasted opportunity for a Chinese company to show itself to a wider audience. Barring upheavals, an expansion in Europe will hardly be announced and this could further discredit the fate of the company. Just think of the recent news according to which LeEco it may not buy lots of the high-end chipset Helio X30 by MediaTek, just to underline the obvious economic difficulties in progress.

In light of all this, some of you might rightly think "But why a company that manages to churn out quality terminals like the LeTV Le 1S or the Le Pro 3 is having all these difficulties?". In my opinion, one of the biggest flaws of LeEco is the lack of a precise identity.

leech ecosystem

Because, let's be clear, we are well aware that devices like the LeEco Le Max 2 or the ZUK Z2 are the best choice for those who want to spend poco and having the maximum possible but this, often and willingly, is not enough. Paradoxically, the most successful brands right now are Apple, Samsung, OPPO e Vivo, names not particularly known for their cheapness. Of course, apart from Apple we are talking about companies well placed even in the lower segments of the market, but whose appeal comes largely from high-end products.

As already explained above, the LeTV smartphones were born primarily as a means to spread their own multimedia content. So, instead of throwing yourself into ambiguous projects like that of Faraday Future, why not focus on this? Why not consolidate your own ecosystem and give it some well-defined outlines? If reality like Xiaomi ed Apple they have managed to get where they are now and it is precisely using this concept, albeit with very different means, that it is software o accessories.

I want to conclude with a good resolution for this 2017: remove these heck of black bands around the display. Seriously enough. A small step for the man, a big step for LeEco.

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