Unicorns 54/229 – Meizu
Founders: Jack Wong (Huáng Zhāng)
Key people: Jack Wong (Chairman), Aber Bai (CEO), Li Nan (VP Sales & Mktg.)
Number of employees: 3,000 (2015)
Meizu Technology Co., Ltd. (Chinese: 魅族科技有限公司; pinyin: Mèizú Kējì Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī) is a Chinese consumer electronics company based in Zhuhai, Guangdong. Founded in 2003 by high-school dropout Jack Wong, Meizu began as a manufacturer of MP3 players and later MP4 players. In 2008, Meizu moved its focus to smartphones. Meizu is the 11th largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, and sold over 20 million units in 2015. In February, 2015, Alibaba invested $590 million in Meizu, acquiring an undisclosed minority stake.
Jack Wong (Huáng Zhāng, 黄章) established Meizu in 2003. Initially a manufacturer of MP3 players, Meizu released their first MP4 player in 2006. Their most notable MP4 player was the M6 Mini Player, which was also marketed by Dane-Elec outside of China.
On April 2007, Meizu officially released the Meizu M8, drawing long queues in front of Meizu stores. The Meizu M8 was highly praised for its sound quality, performance and attractive price. Furthermore, it was one of the first phones to feature a capacitive touchscreen and ran on the Mymobile operating system, based on Microsoft Windows CE 6.0. An upgraded version of the Meizu M8, the Meizu M8SE, was released on October 2, 2009.
On January 1, 2011, the company released the Meizu M9, their first smartphone based on the Android operating system. This device was considered to be a large commercial success in China.
Meizu opened their first branch office outside of China in Hong Kong in 2011. Later that year, they also opened a branch office in Russia.
The Meizu MX was released on January 1, 2012, exactly one year after the M9. It was the first smartphone to feature Meizu’s Flyme OS, a deeply customized version of Android. It was the first Meizu phone officially released outside of China, being released in Hong Kong at the same time. A quad-core version of the Meizu MX was released in June 2012.
In December 2012, the Meizu MX2 was released. It runs on Flyme OS 2.0 based on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The phone was produced by Foxconn and went on sale in China, Russia, Israel and Hong Kong.
The Meizu MX3 was released in October 2013 and was the first smartphone to have 128GB of internal memory. On March 6, 2014, Meizu held a product launch of the Meizu MX3 in France, announcing that it would go on sale there soon. Meizu also expanded to Italy and Eastern Europe in 2014.
Meizu announced the Meizu MX4 on September 2, 2014. It was the first Meizu smartphone to feature a MediaTek processor and LTE support. The Meizu MX4 was the first Meizu smartphone to also offer Alibaba’s Yun OS aside from Meizu’s Flyme OS for the mainland Chinese market. Later that year, the Meizu MX4 Pro was announced, featuring a Samsung Exynos octa-core processor and a 2K+ screen.
In December 2014, Meizu announced the M series of products, with the first product being the Meizu M1 Note. The M-series of Meizu devices focus on bringing powerful features for a relatively low price. In January 2015, Meizu released the second installment in the M series of products: the Meizu M1.
In March 2015, the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition was unveiled at MWC. It was later released in China and in the European Union through an invite system. As of July 20, 2015, the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition can be purchased in the European Union without an invite.
On June 2, 2015, Meizu announced the successor to the Meizu M1 Note, the Meizu M2 Note. It features a physical home button and a new MediaTek octa-core processor, among some other upgraded features. After the Meizu M2 Note, is announced the Meizu M2. It features the same physical home button, and a MediaTek 6753 Octa-Core processor. It comes with Flyme OS 4.5 preinstalled.
The successor to the Meizu MX4 was announced on June 30, 2015 during a large launch event in Beijing and is called the Meizu MX5. During that event, Meizu also announced their first powerbank and virtual reality headset.
Meizu launched the new flagship series named PRO series in September 2015 by announcing the Meizu PRO 5. This device was also later showcased at MWC 2016 and eventually commercially released in February 2016 as an alternative edition named Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition running the Ubuntu Touch operating system.
The Meizu PRO 6, the successor to the PRO 5, was unveiled on April 13, 2016. It features a 10-core Helio X25 SoC, 4 GB of RAM and a 5.2-inch screen.
Meizu further extended its portfolio of M series products by releasing the Meizu M3S, Meizu M3 Note, Meizu M3E and Meizu M3 Max in 2016. The current device of the MX series is the Meizu MX6, which was released on July 19, 2016. Recently, Meizu seems to be geared up for a new smartphone called as Meizu M4. Although the company hasn’t put a word about this mobile, the alleged upcoming smartphone has been spotted on TENNA certification.