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A Divergent Path of Industrial Upgrading: Emergence and Evolution of the Mobile Handset Industry in China

By Ken'ichi Imai and Jingming Shiu


Starting from almost null in the late 1990s, China's mobile phone handset industry has grown to account for more than 40 percent of the current world production. While export growth has been overwhelmingly led by multi-national corporations (MNCs), increasingly fierce competition in the domestic market ignited by the advent of local handset makers has induced unique industrial evolution: (1) outgrowth of independent design houses specialized in handset development and (2) emergence of IC fabless ventures that design core ICs for handsets. In the background of this evolutionary industrial growth there are factors such as, the scale and increasing diversity of China's domestic market that advantages local firms vis-a-vis MNCs; modularization of handset and semiconductor technologies; policy interventions that supports local startups. The emergence and evolution of China's handset industry is likely to have international implications as the growth of the global demand for low-cost and multi-function mobile phone handsets is expected to accelerate. Thus, our case suggests that the conventional view of latecomer industrialization and upgrading that emphasizes the key role of international production networks organized by MNCs needs to be modified in order to accommodate China's rise into perspective

Topics: Industrial upgrading, China’s industrial growth, China, Telephone, Information services industry, 産業高度化, 中国の産業発展, 中国, 電話, 情報産業, 547.464, AECC China 中国, L1 - Market Structure, L6 - Industry Studies: Manufacturing, O1 - Economic Development, O3 - Technological Change; Research and Development, P2 - Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies, 384
Publisher: 日本貿易振興機構アジア経済研究所
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:ir:2344/640

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