Hisense to change SA perceptions
Cape Town - Chinese technology company Hisense has launched a South African operation which includes a technical skills transfer programme at the firm's local factory. The company is also determined to change the negative perception of Chinese consumer goods.
"We want to bring the latest technology to South Africa because our R&D [research and development] centres produce products for the global market," Hisense SA general manager Jerry Liu told News24.
Recently, Apple has come under criticism, particularly in India, when the company debuted the iPad there just before the launch of the iPad 2 in the US.
In SA, the iPad also only went on sale recently, prompting some to suggest that big companies were dumping technologically obsolete products in developing markets.
Hisense says that products sold in SA will have the same quality as those sold in the US and Europe, but details will be country specific.
"We build products for the world market, but details of a product might be different in particular countries. For the South African side, we have a special testing stage," said Liu.
Hisense is a wholly owned Chinese state-owned enterprise and is seeking to re-brand consumer goods from that country as one of high quality.
'With the new generation of Chinese government officials, this is an advantage. The new generation cares about the China brand." said Lui. "In the past, Chinese goods were low quality and we want to change that perception.
"We build space technology and we want to bring quality to the market," he added.
Liu also responded to negative web reviews of Hisense products.
"Extremely unreliable, costs more to repair than the purchase price in the long term [assuming you can get anywhere with the technical support team]. The warranty is a joke," wrote a user calling himself OZFox40 of the Hisense HSLC2629HDI TV on the Productreview.com.au website.
"I bought the TL-3220HD version of this TV, the only difference is the high definition ATSC tuner built-in [extra $100]. The clumsy remote would not win a design award," wrote argrafix on Epinions.com.
Lui said that the company was improving quality.
"We have done our market research and it tells us that the quality is good. You will always have some people that complain, but we supply direct to Walmart in the United States. We don't get any negativity now."
China has overtaken the US and the EU as South Africa's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade estimated to be $25bn in 2010 and is one of the Bric (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations.
President Jacob Zuma is on an Asian tour and has hailed the country's role in the first leaders' summit of the Brics group of five developing nations.
Liu said that products will be built locally and there are plans to do a skills transfer during which local staff would be trained by Chinese specialists.
"We are giving training to local staff in the IT and electronics field and we're going to completely build the TV in South Africa and we're thinking about building fridges here too."
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