I should be one of the first people to experience the NIO Phone.
Three days before the official launch of the NIO Phone, Dong Chehui was invited to the NIO Workshop in Guangzhou. Taking this opportunity, we were able to see the full picture of the NIO Phone up close before the official launch.
In addition to experiencing NIO's driver interconnection under strict confidentiality, we also heard some internal thoughts about the NIO Phone from NIO at the Workshop.
▲ NIO Phone
Exclusively for NIO car owners, a private place for the soul
As we mentioned in the press conference article, current car companies and mobile phone manufacturers seem to be trapped in a strange circle. Mobile phone manufacturers build cars in a high-profile manner, while car companies also focus on making mobile phones. It seems that everyone who is professional is doing what they are not. Things to be good at.
The two sides are going back and forth to expand unrelated businesses, making "cross-border" a controversial issue. Comments such as "not doing business properly" and "our bank is doing new business before it is done well" are overwhelming. . Especially when the crossover player was NIO, these questions became particularly acute.
Many people are laughing. From the current mobile phone industry, NIO Phone is really not good. If you have the money to make mobile phones, why not build more battery swap stations?
After watching the NIO IN press conference, a NIO car owner next to me said this.
He is probably not the only NIO car owner who has this idea. In the opinion of most car owners, focusing on building cars on the track, maintaining good service quality, and surviving in the new round of new energy elimination competition are the most important things for NIO right now. Task. Allocating energy to making mobile phones is a bit asking for trouble. If you are not careful, it will not be as simple as "stealing the chicken but losing the rice".
The dissatisfaction and concerns of car owners are understandable. After all, NIO’s financial report numbers in the first half of the year are indeed not that good. In the second quarter that just passed, NIO’s net loss was 6.056 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 119.6% and a quarter-on-quarter increase of 27.8%. As of the first half of this year, Weilai's net loss has exceeded 10.9 billion yuan, and the net profit attributable to the parent company has also reached the lowest point in the brand's history. At this time, entering the market is already a smartphone business in the existing market, which is somewhat confusing.
"Nio, why do you want to build a mobile phone?"
Perhaps because he had heard enough such questions, at the workshop exchange meeting, product manager Wilson gave NIO’s answer at the beginning.
When cars and mobile phones have become two super smart terminals in daily life, mobile phones will be the key puzzle for NIO car owners to enjoy their lives. We hope to create a mobile phone that is seamlessly connected to the car.
As Li Bin said at the press conference, NIO Phone is a mobile phone designed for NIO car owners. The precise positioning is directly reflected in the body design of NIO Phone. In order to strengthen the connection between mobile phones and cars, many designs of NIO Phone are closely related to NIO models.
According to the internal team, the back of NIO adopts a "skyline" design, a dividing line with a high and low feel, which separates the camera module and the bottom of the fuselage. In terms of color matching, NIO mobile phones provide a total of 6 colors. Among them, 4 performance version colors come from the same color of NIO models, and the other 2 flagship version colors come from NIO interiors; the NIO logo on the body uses ceramic inlay technology. NIO’s internal team believes that such design elements, You can recognize this as a NIO Phone at a glance.
▲ The blend of "blue"
Building a phone exclusive to car owners and escaping competition with traditional mobile phone manufacturers is only the first step. NIO is betting on the future of ecological interconnection.
The internal team at the scene used CarPlay as an example. Weilai believes that more and more car manufacturers will start to divest CarPlay, which will become a clear trend in the future. Although Apple has not yet announced that it will build a car, relatively few competitors can determine when Apple will actually end. To a certain extent, CarPlay is a time bomb for vehicle manufacturers that use CarPlay car-machine solutions.
We should put the villain first and then the gentleman. Let us put the gains and losses first. Once Apple stops building cars, CarPlay will face two outcomes from the perspective of car companies and partners. Looking at the bright side, thanks to the advancement of Apple’s car-making business, CarPlay will become more optimized and perfect. The car companies are in harmony and happy; on the other hand, Apple, as the "party A" of the system, also has the right to build CarPlay as a moat for car manufacturing. The limitation of full functionality is a technical bottleneck for other car companies.
▲Picture from: CarAdvice
Of the two outcomes, whether the former or the latter is more likely to occur is left to everyone to judge for themselves. According to NIO’s meaning, it does not want to “lose its soul.” It focuses on the car and uses mobile phones as the medium to seize the ecological initiative. In a certain sense, NIO Phone is the exclusive residence of NIO’s soul, and this is what NIO has repeatedly emphasized. The reason why Sky UI is its own thing.
In addition to retaining the "soul", NIO also sees the possibility of mobile phones empowering cars. The development of smart cockpits is no longer a secret in the new energy track.
We found that just building a car cannot overcome certain technical bottlenecks.
NIO’s product manager further revealed to us.
We once mentioned in the article "The "Far Ahead" Lynk & Co 08 Starts with the Knife" that the computing power of the mobile phone and the car machine is shared, and the calculation results are directly displayed on the car machine, which is a continuous maintenance A "shortcut" to the advancement of cars and machines. With the current general replacement frequency of Volkswagen's mobile phones every two years, changing mobile phones is a mechanism to upgrade the computing power of the car, which can fundamentally solve the dilemma of lagging behind in smart cockpits.
Making a big difference, "computing power integration" is the easiest way to break through ecological technology bottlenecks.
In fact, Weilai, which adheres to long-termism, has also received rewards from smart cockpits not long ago. According to relevant sources, NIO’s first self-developed smart cockpit chip using the 7nm process will be manufactured by Samsung, and the person in charge of chip development is from Huawei HiSilicon.
Self-developed smart cockpit chips and the use of mobile phones as media are just two of these factors that make it difficult not to think of Flyme Auto. In my opinion, whether NIO Phone or Meizu phone join the automotive ecological closed loop, the logic behind them is the same. They connect two super mobile terminals in users' daily life and maximize the car owner's car-machine experience.
Perhaps the NIO Phone is not doing well enough, but with the tape-out of the 7nm smart cockpit chip next year, the NIO car core that matches the NIO Phone will undergo a qualitative change. While the first-generation NIO Phone retains the soul of the brand, it can also be seen as NIO occupying the "ecological" mind of car owners in advance. With NIO Phone as the media foundation, NIO may also bring products such as NIO Watch.
NIO, which believes in long-termism, wants to seize its future.
The high-end myth of NIO Phone
One thing is very interesting. At the exchange meeting, we tentatively asked NIO’s internal team whether the NIO Phone would be given as a gift with the car, or would it be used as an optional accessory when purchasing a car?
The answer I got was to the effect: "There is no word on the options, but the NIO Phone will definitely be sold."
In retrospect, asking this question at the time was too wishful thinking. I was only thinking about expanding the volume of goods to increase sales, but ignored the issue of the brand tone of NIO. Li Bin said in NIO IN that NIO Phone will adhere to the "standard configuration is the flagship" approach.
Judging from the quality of the hardware announced at the press conference, NIO Phone's product performance does not look like a patchwork of "midway monks". Weilai has almost arranged the best non-customized components on the market for NIO Phone, including CMF (Color, Material, Finishing) design level, NIO has shown us a very mature and highly completed side. NIO Phone has achieved almost everything that small smartphone manufacturers can do.
In addition, issues of aesthetics and consumption power vary from person to person, but as the first smartphone product launched by a car brand, the NIO Phone deserves high marks.
No matter from the brand tone that has always been promoted high, or from the hardware quality of NIO Phone itself, NIO's promotion of high-end is logical and self-consistent. The practice of giving away gifts for car purchases will only destroy the entire brand tone of NIO.
At least in Weilai's plan, playing a "high-end brand" with mobile phones is an extremely serious matter. According to feedback from colleagues in front of our company, the professionalism of the lighting, desktop, and equipment layout in the NIO IN 2023 experience area exceeded expectations. Weilai’s sincerity in benchmarking high-end products cannot be explained.
▲NIO IN 2023 experience area
Returning to the phone itself, we can also find some clues from some unique functions on the NIO Phone. UWB digital key, NIO Link data transmission, sky window central control clone and the world's first side car control, all have strong life ties. Qualitative. Behind these functions, NIO’s original intention is to use NIO Phone to truly replace the main phone in the hands of car owners.
It is NIO's strategy to break out of the competitive circle of mainstream manufacturers, use cars as a source of attraction, and bring high-end competing products on the market into the NIO ecosystem to compete.
However, NIO Phone still has its high-end "paradox".
The expected sales volume of NIO Phone may be a total of 300,000 units of the three generations of models.
At the Workshop, the NIO team revealed to us the internal expectations of NIO Phone. Based on the one-year cycle of NIO launching a new generation of mobile phones, including the first generation, the first three generations of NIO Phone need to bear an average sales volume of 100,000 units per generation.
We calculate from the current car ownership of NIO. As of August, NIO has delivered a total of 383,908 new cars since its establishment. If NIO Phone wants to achieve sales of 100,000, NIO Phone needs to reach a car owner penetration rate of close to 26%. Looking at the level of ES8 owners, the main consumers of NIO mobile phones, even if the nearly 72,000 ES8 owners buy in full, the penetration rate is only about 18.75%. The remaining sales penetration rate of nearly 7% requires owners of other models. bear.
Of course, such an algorithm is relatively crude and can only provide some reference significance. At the NIO IN 2023 press conference, Li Bin once jokingly talked about his sales expectations, "To be honest, how many mobile phones can we sell?" , It is not easy for Weilai mobile phones to meet sales expectations.
In addition, the appearance design of NIO Phone is a slightly controversial point. After I actually got my hands on it in the Workshop, the actual texture and appearance design made me feel that NIO has accurately positioned the audience for mobile phones, but the segmentation and positioning of mobile phones is still not clear enough.
The main group of NIO Phone should be NIO ES8 car owners, but the appearance design of the phone (it has nothing to do with color matching) is too young and even has a fast fashion style. If you want to become the main force of this group of car owners, NIO Phone’s business sense is not enough Strong; secondly, car owners of other car models are usually young and fashion-conscious. The appearance of the mobile phone may be suitable, but the functions of the car model cannot be fully experienced, and it is difficult to shake the original main phone in the hands of car owners.
NIO Phone should achieve better results by launching foldable models and models that cater to female car owners.
As we said before, NIO Phone, as the first generation product of NIO mobile phone, may not be good enough. NIO is probably right to take the road of computing power integration. At least there are still two generations of NIO Phone left to adjust. type of time.
Before that, let’s not be too quick to look down.
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