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Case Study: Innovation of Meizu Company

Abstract

This paper is a case study of a company which located in China. The paper mainly focuses on the innovation of this company, which uses different methods to increase the potential users including crowd-sourcing test and innovation communities.
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2496005
Innovation of Meizu Company
Tingnan Bao
School of Information and Communication Technology
KTH
Stockholm, Sweden 16453
tingnan@kth.se
Can you image that an electronics manufacturer launches its several of smartphones without any
other advertising campaign during resent four years however it is so success? Meizu, a Chinese
electronics manufacturer from Zhuhai, make it available. M8, the first smartphone product from
Meizu, had launched on 2009.At that time, M8 was the first a touch-controlled, multimedia and
internet-enabled Smartphone in China. It is popularly regarded as a Chinese iPhone-like phone
due to the similarity of the UI, feature of the Apple iPhone. [1] You may not image that scene
when many people queued outside Meizu stores for buying M8 on February, 28th,
2009.Previously, this spectacular event only can be found on the day of the iPhone launch.
During the following two months, the sales increased to 500 million RMB with 100 thousand
M8. Due to the fact that M8 used WinCE platform with excellent performance, it exhibited in the
pavilion of the headquarters of Microsoft in China, showed in Figure 1. If Steve Jobs and his
Apple products has impacted the modern mobile phone industry, Jack Wong, the founder of
Meizu, and his Meizu products undoubtedly has changed mobile phone industry in China.
Figure 1. Meizu M8 in Microsoft
Till now, the main products include M8, M9, MX, MX2 and MX3. The concept of development
is ‘product bigger than business’ and the development strategy is that ‘pursue the details, the
stability of change’. Flyme OS is the deeper embodiment of the Meizu design concept, which is
regarded as ‘the spirit of the products’.
Simultaneously, an increasing number of people join in the Meizu community. The online
community of Meizu is innovation community. It's divided into different sessions for users
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2496005
including product discussion, resource sharing zone, Flyme OS zone, Expert users’ zone and
Community membership life. Users can interact with each other in these sessions, even Jack
Wong, the founder of Meizu, communicate with users via this online community. Besides,
Meizu also provide a SDK package to let developer to develop the application for products and
100 million apps have been downloaded from its own Flyme store for Android apps on March
14,2012.[2] Except for the online community, MY+ which organized by Meizu official is an
offline Meizu fans party. Users can not only share the experiment of using Meizu products but
also extend their social networks via participating in activities in this party.
2. Crowdsourcing test
Crowdsourcing is defined by Jeff Howe, contributing editor at Wired Magazine and Mark
Robinson, features editor at Wired Magazine after conversations about how businesses using the
internet to outsource the individuals in 2005. [3] Howe first published the definition for
crowdsourcing in his blog “The Rise of Crowdsourcing” in a June 2, 2006: "Simply defined,
crowdsourcing represents the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed
by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the
form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed
collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the
use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers."[4] In the scientific
literature, Daren C. Brabham was the first to define "crowdsourcing" in his article:
"Crowdsourcing is an online, distributed problem-solving and production model."[5] After that,
different authors gives this term in different definition according to their specialties. Enrique
Estellés-Arolas and Fernando González Ladrón-de-Guevara developed a new integrating
definition in the article ‘Towards an Integrated Crowdsourcing Definition’. [6]
Today, Crowdsourcing has been widely utilized in the Internet. Company uses Internet to
distribute its task to work out, find the new innovation or solve the technical problems. Then,
company uses the feedback from the creativity and ability of crowdsourcers who can accomplish
these tasks via using their spare time to meet charge the small remuneration for their services or
without remuneration.
M8, the first smartphone made by Meizu Company, is the first use of “crowdsourcing test” mode
in China smartphone field in 2008. Meizu Company has changed the hardware version of M8
several times. At the end of 2008, M8 was released with ‘beta version (without the warranty
card). After a few months ago, M8 was released with ‘testing’ version (with the warranty card).
Facing with the problem of screen failure, M8 was released with ‘second’ version to solve its
hardware problem. From ‘beta’ version to ‘second’ version, the customers can deliver their
smartphones to Meizu Company for updating hardware version without any charge. It is
beneficial for Meizu Company to expand the market share and foster its brand via crowdsourcing
test on the hardware of the smartphone. Comparing with other smartphone company, such as
Nokia and Samsung which prefer to release the new smartphone to solve hardware faults of the
previous one, Meizu Company used crowdsourcing test to achieve this task successfully.
Apart from crowdsourcing test of the hardware of Meizu products, the software of Meizu
products also uses this method. Most of the apps in different platform (App Store, Android
Store) need to wait for approval depending on time audit. The ideal situation is that the audit
mechanism should be running at days and nights so that not only can it increase the number of
apps in the platform but also can inspire the interest of developing the new apps for developers.
The fact is that our thoughts are not real. Could can we solve this problem? Meizu Company
gives us a new innovation method that MY close test group, any user of Meizu can apply to
become an app tester to verify the apps and try to find the bugs, provides a way to minimize the
time of apps audit. Specifically, the user can be a member of MY close test group via registering
on MStore, the apps platform for Meizu Products. Then, the system will automatically assign
fours apps to the user. Afterwards, the user submits the feedback on the MStore with bugs or
passing, showed in Figure 2. Finally, MStore calculates the rate of passing. If the rate of
passing >70%, the apps will be automatically displayed in the MStore so that all of users can
download the apps. It is truly a win-win situation. On one hand, crowdsourcer gain the sense of
engaging; the developer can obtain the feedback from users directly. On the other hand, the
stress from MStore will be reduced so that it is not necessary to hire more employees to handle
the job of apps audit.
Figure 2. The Waiting-for Feedback Apps
Therefore, Meizu Company can gain users’ need, reduce the operation cost and establish brand
via successfully using crowdsourcing test on hardware and software. Besides, other smartphone
company in China such as Xiaomi Company has learned the crowdsourcing test experiences
from Meizu when it launched smartphones.
3. Innovation communities
Communities in the offline world are defined as collectivities of people who share a common
experience, interest; [7] who experience a positive regard for other members [8]; and who
contribute to member welfare and collective [9] [10]. The internet was not invented as a
technical revolution, but it has become an important part of social life. Therefore, online
communities are also based on shared experience, interest; positive regard for other members and
contributed to member welfare and collective [11]. An increasing number of companies establish
its online community to give the customer to a channel to communicate with each other. A
dramatic online community does not just attract the user to participate in, but also bring out the
benefits for the company.
Meizu Company takes full use of the online and the offline community to converge users. Its
online community has different sessions for different needs. In the product discussion session,
users can discuss Meizu products to others. This method is also seen in other similar smartphone
online community. However, the online community of Meizu Company has its special
innovation that Jack Wong, the founder of Meizu Company, usually reply post of users in this
session. It is hard to find this situation in any other company. Through discussing with users,
Jack Wong likely to listen to the feedback and improve the performance of products. Figure 3 is
the example of the interaction between Jack Wong and the user. According to the statistics, He
logged into the online community several hours a day and even released the post at late night.
From 2003 to 2009, Jack Wong has released nearly than 6000 posts [12]. This is because he
thinks product bigger than business’. A good product should depend on excellent technology
and superior performance to win the recognition with consumers. Rather than extending the
market share by advertisements blindly, why not directly communicate with the consumers.
Therefore, Jack Wong discovery an effective channel to solve the issue --- online community. So
far, there are more than two million topics in this session. In resource sharing zone, users release
their post about the apps which is suitable for Meizu products. Other users can assess the apps
and reply that post. After that, the most favorite apps would be display on the top post so that all
of users can download. Until now, there are approximately 370 thousands topics in this session.
Besides, the online community also includes Flyme OS zone, Expert users’ zone and Community
membership life. Meizu online community is one of the most active smartphone community. It
previously held 120 thousand of people online at the same time on December, 15th, 2010. ‘4.1
million Users have registered at a Meizu online community’, Yongxiang Bai, the CEO of Meizu
company, said on January 22rd, 2013.
Figure 3. The interaction with J.Wong
MY+, organized by Meizu Company is a local offline community. The first local offline
community was founded in Guangzhou on July, 3rd, 2010, showed in Figure 4. Afterwards, the
local offline community was established in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, etc. It is
easy to be a member of MY+, the user just registers via http://bbs.meizu.cn/myer/ and then can
participate in the offline community activities. Through the offline community, users can expand
their social networks and share their experiences about using Meizu products. From the
company`s perspective, It is important to establish such a community in which the user approves
products quality and enterprise culture, focus on the development trend of enterprise, positively
spread the spirit of enterprise to others so that others intend to obtain the products in order to
share with each other. In our case, Meizu Company effectively makes users interact with each
other via MY+. It is also a potential market promotion since others who are not familiar with
Meizu Company are affected to be a member of MY+ due to an increasing number of local
offline community.
Figure 4. MY+ in Guangzhou
No matter online community or offline community, Meizu Company has own innovation
strategy. Therefore, it has successfully retained users who spare no effort in promoting the
products, service and culture of Meizu.
4. Prospective of Meizu
An estimated 300 million active Android users [13] by the end of 2013 in China. There are many
smartphone manufacturers using Android system, such as Lenovo, Xiaomi, OPPO and Meizu.
Meizu is facing the biggest challenge to occupy the market share since the market competition of
smartphone is changing. Especially, Xiaomi is preferred below 2000 RMB, which brings out the
stress for Meizu Company. Also, other companies also intend to transform. For example, OPPO,
Huawei are preparing into the mobile internet space. These factors motivate the change of Meizu
Company.
Flyme OS, highly-customized Android system, first works on Meizu MX, showed in Figure 5. It
has the Flyme cloud backup service and its own app store. However, Flyme OS is not open
source system [14]. That means other brand of smartphones cannot use this system. However, as
the biggest rival ---Xiaomi, MIUI, an open source system, can be installed in different
smartphones which support for the Android platform. It has successfully spread the impact of
Xiaomi and also accumulates the potential users.
We should learn the experience for Xiaomi. It is necessary that the original code of Flyme OS is
open. In this way, we do not only achieve the benefits as Xiaomi does. Users can update bugs,
develop new features and increase security of the system. Besides, when Flyme OS is available
to anyone, other smartphones which install Flyme OS can use the service such as Flyme cloud
backup and app store. It will increase the revenue income for Meizu Company. The more other
smartphone users install, the more revenue income return.
Figure 5. The UI of Flyme OS
5. Conclusion
Until now, Meizu Company has released their latest smartphone, MX3.In addition to its unique
15:9 1,800 x 1,080 display, one of its other selling points is the world’ first 128GB storage
phone[15]. ‘Product bigger than business, the concept of development, can be seen in each
product. We can easily notice that technical innovation on Meizu products. Besides, Meizu
Company also focuses heavily on user experience and user feedback. Meizu Company uses
crowdsourcing test on hardware and software as a method to carry out user experience. In order
to improve the performance of products, listening to the user feedback is essential. Jack Wong
directly reply the user’s feedback on its online community. It is closer the gap between company
and customers. Meanwhile, offline community provides a way to gather users together, sharing
interests, expanding their social network, even spread the enterprise culture to others. However,
Meizu Company also has its weakness. For example, Flyme OS should be open source so that
other smartphone user can use it for fun or updating bugs. Also, the company could increase the
revenue income. In all, Meizu Company is a successful smartphone company which has changed
the mobile phone industry in China.
Reference
[1] Brian Brotarlo, ‘China’s iPhone: The Meizu M8h’
http://www.cellphones.ca/news/post002082/, Retrieved 2007
[2] Steven Millward, "Meizu’s Flyme Store Hits 100 Million App Downloads, Looks towards a
Billion", http://www.techinasia.com/meizu-flyme-store-100-million, Retrieved March 14, 2012
[3] Safire, William (February 5, 2009). "On Language". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved
May 19, 2013.
[4] Howe, Jeff (June 2, 2006). "Crowdsourcing: A Definition". Crowdsourcing Blog. Retrieved
January 2, 2013.
[5] Brabham, Daren (2008), "Crowdsourcing as a Model for Problem Solving: An Introduction
and Cases", Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media
Technologies 14 (1): 7590
[6] Estellés-Arolas, Enrique; González-Ladrón-de-Guevara, Fernando (2012), "Towards an
Integrated Crowdsourcing Definition", Journal of Information Science 38 (2): 189200
[7] Bender, T. 1978. Community and social change in America”, Princeton, NJ: Rutgers
University Press.
[8] Etzioni, A., and O. Etzioni. 1999. Fact-to-face and computer-mediated communities, a
comparative analysis”, The Information Society 15: 241 8.
[9] Knoke, D. 1986. Associations and interest groups”, Annual Review of Sociology 12: 1 21.
[10] Putnam, R. 2000. Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community”, New
York: Simon & Schuster.
[11] Lee Sproull and Manuel Arriaga. 2007. Online communities”, In Hossein Bidgoli (ed.),
Handbook of Computer Networks, Vol. 3. New York: John Wiley.
[12] “Jack Wong”, http://baike.baidu.com/view/1241637.htm, Retrieved August 17, 2013
[13] Steven Millward, “China Will Have 300 Million Android Users by the End of 2013
(INFOGRAPHIC)”, http://www.gamesinasia.com/china-300-million-android-users-in-2013/,
Retrieved March 25, 2013
[14] “Flyme_OS”, http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyme_OS, Retrieved December 6, 2013
[15] RICHARD LAI, “World's first 128GB phone now available from Meizu, but only works in
China”, http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/18/meizu-mx3-128gb-china/, Retrieved November
21, 2013
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