Exclusive: TCL and Ausdroid talk phones, tablets, tech and distribution

ByMabel R. Acton

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Over the past 12 months, TCL has made a significant effort to impact the mobile market. They’ve delivered solid devices that fit well in the mid-range market and a couple of verging on the upper. We’ve been lucky enough to have one-on-one time with Joseph Corrente, the Channel Sales Director for Oceania.

During the discussion, Joseph went into detail not usually seen by the press or consumers about the company’s inner workings, business strategies, and direction. While not all of the discussion is directly relevant to Ausdroid readers, we’ve been given the nod to let you know more about the company, direction and devices.

A point of difference

TCL as a business has a finger in pretty much every pie you can think of when it comes to consumer electronics, even white goods. But at the core of this, with immediate consideration to its business, is the screen technology. TCL manufactures screens and panels for several other companies, so it stands to reason that their point of difference is that screen technology.

Given the research shows the average adult spends up to 6 hours a day in front of a screen and children (including school hours) over 8 hours a day (primarily streaming media), this focus makes sense. In previous reviews, we’ve explored the NXTVISION technology with blue light reduction:

Joseph was happy to share his belief that cameras on TCL devices still deliver a great experience in the everyday way people actually use their smartphone cameras, with their focus and area of expertise shining through in display quality. They’re really looking to establish a market with the discerning users who wish for a value product, not those operating at the bleeding edge of technology.

During our discussion, Joseph went into some fantastic details about market positioning, which honestly surprised me a little. That TCL considers themselves to be direct competition to the likes of Samsung in that they have a similar, broad-reaching consumer range of goods.

Distribution strategies

We discussed the distribution and strategies of target market segments as well, and given the timing of TCL making its entrance and the recent exit from the western markets of Huawei and LG, most of the answers didn’t surprise me too much.

In the initial phase, Joseph said the strategy was to snap up that low hanging fruit which meant taking the opportunity with Huawei exiting and targeting some of that market share. Of course, there will need to be an acquisition of other markets to meet the company’s aggressive market target of holding 15% of the mobile market share by the end of 2025. One of the areas that will help them to achieve this is by having broad distribution channels available.

Joseph presents a true belief that this is an achievable goal by continuing to present clear value to the market. As we delved deeper into this, he confirmed that TCL had held products back from release when they hadn’t met the expectations of the channel and image of the company, commenting:

We want users to know they don’t need to spend $1,000.00 or more to get a great user experience.

When it comes to the mobile space, as part of this consumer experience delivery: TCL has no plans to stop the provision of chargers, cables or headphones. The team at TCL believe that when you buy a phone, it’s not just the phone you’re investing in with the expectation that you’re purchasing a package that will meet your needs.

By looking at consumer buying habits, they identified a number of traits in consumer buying. The primary one was that many consumers had preferred purchasing locations. Whether this is online or one of the direct retail options like JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Bing Lee etc. or through carriers. This is one of the reasons for the volume of devices available, giving an opportunity for retailers and carriers to secure an exclusive device for their business.

For those of you that aren’t aware, Alcatel is essentially an OEM brand for TCL now and will remain so. But they’re actively avoiding the potential to cut their own market by having a line in the sand of sub-$200, the Alcatel market with $200 and up the TCL market.

TCL’s future in Australia

We have had confirmation — without precise timelines — on several announced products making their way to Australian shores. Most of them aren’t a surprise, given the previous generation of devices and their evolution. However, it is nice to get that confirmation.

This follows on from a manic 6 months for TCL in which the company released 11 products to Australia. Anyone who has worked in distribution, marketing or sales knows that this creates a massive flow-on effect and workload for everyone through the channel.

We’ve already seen several devices released in 2022, including the TCL 30+, TCL 30 SE, TCL 305 and TCL 306. An interesting point of note is that they are not 5G devices. Not everyone needs or wants 5G at this time eg. I’m on Boost, which doesn’t offer it. For those looking to get 5G in their hand on a budget, the TCL 30 5G (replacement to the TCL 20 5G) is coming to Australia — we weren’t given a definitive date — later this year.

Further to the evolutionary changeover of mobile phone models, we will see the NXTPAPER tablets coming to Australia. We’ll be keeping in touch with Joseph and the TCL marketing team to ensure we’re across that when further information is available.

Joseph said:

We at TCL are constantly innovating and thinking about our consumers health. We recognise that adults and children are spending more time on screens, and we want to make sure that when they are using a TCL product that the use of Blue light is reduced dramatically. The TCL 30 series phones and NXTPAPER tablets will give the consumers piece of mind that they have the right product in their hands.

Moving further forward, TCL has an increased focus on being a market leader in innovation, progress and integration. This is very clear from the company’s mission to provide products and services for smart and healthy living. We’ll see more of this area of development across the coming year, with smart home integration becoming more prevalent.

All TCL branded hardware is controllable via a single seamless app, something several bigger name brands are yet to deliver. It was confirmed that there is work going on to ensure maximum compatibility in the future, although we haven’t had absolute confirmation if it will be compliant with Matter or not.

Green technology

It’s become a more consistent theme with manufacturing and distribution that buyers want green technology. In this case, when we asked, we had confirmation that:

  • There are recycled materials in the product packaging for TCL mobile products
  • All of the packaging is recyclable
  • Other work items are happening to make the company as a whole “greener” in the future

This isn’t everything that was discussed but a large portion of it, and we’d like to thank Joseph for the “peek behind the curtain” and, of course, for his time in this interview.