Who is Transsion Holdings, Company Behind Infinix And TECNO?

Who is Transsion Holdings, Company Behind Infinix And TECNO?

While realme was undoubtedly the top dog for the last quarter of 2021, one name in Canalys’ report for the top smartphone brands in the Philippines may not ring a bell for many. Transsion Holdings shot up to the third spot of Canalys’ ranking seemingly out of nowhere, beating out established brands like Xiaomi, OPPO, and Samsung. But who exactly is Transsion Holdings?

For people not in the know, Transsion Holdings is the company behind Infinix and Tecno Mobile, brands that are picking up steam in the Philippines thanks to their phone’s robust features and affordable price points. And while Transsion’s sudden success may make it sound like they’re a new company, they’ve actually been around for quite a while. The company was founded in Hong Kong back in 2006 by Zhu Zhaojiang, and released its first smartphone for the South Asian market in 2008. Interestingly enough, the company pivoted from the South Asian market towards more fertile grounds in Africa and became the first company to offer a phone that had two SIM slots. After their initial success in Africa, the company made the conscious decision to stop selling phones in Asia, focusing solely on the more lucrative African market.

The TECNO T-901, a modern feature phone 

In order to cater to this price-sensitive demographic, the company developed and sold feature phones instead of smart ones. These helped mitigate costs to help make the business sustainable yet could be sold to the public for irresistible prices. Keep in mind that these were not outdated Nokia 3310s – they could use the internet, access social media sites such as Facebook, and do other tasks. For as little as $20. There was just no Android/iOS support, but that’s a small price to pay for people who had never even owned these devices before (or had these as spares).

Photo courtesy of MakeUseOf

The pivot to offering dual-SIM phones was groundbreaking at the time – due to carrier restrictions, some networks had good data plans but horrible deals for texting/calling and vice-versa. Communication between different networks was ridiculously expensive as well. Despite the fact that many Africans wanted multiple phones to keep them onboard several networks, the cost of a phone just didn’t make it feasible for most people. To combat this issue, the company developed dual-sim technology which has become a staple in the smartphone industry. This solved their issues and propelled Transsion up the consumer ladder in Africa. It would take a couple of years before major market players such as Nokia would adopt the same strategy.

Transsion Holdings continued its exponential growth over the years, with support from the Chinese government through millions of dollars in funding. There was national pride to be had in a Chinese company becoming a household name in another continent, after all. The success of Transsion continued until its inevitable leap into the smartphone market in 2014. The team behind these products has continued innovating, with features specifically set for their dominant market.

Photo courtesy of BBC


A notable product of all this localized R&D is the camera software found in Transsion models. They’re well-adapted to darker skin tones found in the continent, capturing more light and the beauty of their skin (instead of whitening it). This feature won them awards in the Dark Complexion Portrait Segmentation Challenge in CVPR2020. The voice recognition software embedded in these devices has been tailored to understand accents and slight twangs in the language. Since the consistency of electricity can be an issue there as well, extra effort has been placed into making sure that their devices are extra efficient with the battery power they have. An acid-resistant shell also gives the phone more longevity in an environment where pH levels are noticeably higher (human sweat).

Media consumption has also been found to be a major contributor. Since Spotify and Apple Music still have limited reach in the continent due to region or cost constraints, the company has developed BoomPlay – a music app with local African artists as well as partnerships with Warner and Universal Music. All of these pushed Transsion to the #1 spot in Africa.

The company went public in September of 2019 on the Chinese Star Market and promptly amassed a valuation of $4 billion. Surprisingly enough, the company opted for shares targeted towards Chinese locals, barring most opportunities from foreign investors. There were hardly any doubts about a shortage of investors anyways since Transsion sold 124 million devices globally just the year prior.

It’s not all victories though, as Transsion faced controversy in August 2020 when it was detected that malware came preinstalled on one of their more popular devices. As a result, users’ data was compromised and suspicious applications were self-installed without the owners’ consent. This was eventually found to be caused by third-party suppliers of parts as they don’t have the technology or budget to create everything in-house. Add that hit to competition in the budget space growing increasingly intense, and other factors. However, they aren’t letting those things slow them down.

Now in 2021, Transsion Holdings still continues to make feature phones and smartphones under the Infinix and TECNO brands. In addition to that, they’ve also ventured into home appliances and other fields like many other giants in the industry. It’s highly unlikely for sales to slow down for the company, especially after reporting a 60% increase early in 2021. While they intend to keep their reign over the African market, they’ve expanded far and wide to over 70 countries including the Philippines.

Partnerships with the BBC for improved camera tech? Easy. Chris Evans as an endorser? Done. The sky is the limit, and TECNO will definitely embody their signature tagline “Stop At Nothing.” Transsion Holdings is here to stay, and it’s unlikely that we’ll see a stop in the growing number of Infinix and TECNO phones around us.



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