Anatomy of a train wreck

BenQ is pulling the plug on the Siemens mobile business that it bought about 12 months ago.The blogosphere is strarting to analyse the business. It is a tragedy for the people employed by the company and a sad way to see the Siemens brand disappear.

It is bad for consumers in that it concentrates power in fewer and fewer hands and robs the market of a player who came up with some of the most interesting product designs; from the rotating keyboard of the SK65 to the SL series of slider phones that Nokia aped with the 6111.

Siemens was known for its good quality low-end phones and to be honest I can’t ever recall seeing any of their business-orientated phones in action. Maybe their distribution was patchy in the UK.

BenQ however didn’t bring the necessary skills set to the table: products were delayed, the product design of many of the new BenQ phones isn’t very impressive and to external audiences they didn’t seem to have a clue about consumer marketing.

BenQ’s great skill is in the process of manufacturing mobile phones not selling them. Someone like Ningbo Bird who have some consumer marketing smarts would have been a better partner. BenQ will continue on in the mobile business as a vassal of the big manufacturers who need products manufactured on their behalf to their own designs.

Where BenQ will have a problem is with German consumers. Germany is the largest IT market in Europe and its consumers love their gadgets. They are one of the key target markets for BenQ’s other offerings for value-conscious consumers, although now the BenQ brand is tainted.