We have a certain fondness for the Yotaphone around here. The dual-screen Android smartphones that Russian parent company Yota Devices has produced have swayed the niche markets, including the United States. Unfortunately, when we got word that the company wouldn’t be shipping its YotaPhone 2 to the United States — despite an Indiegogo campaign that likely took a lot of money from American hands, proving some interest — we wondered what was really going on with the move.
Apparently, according to an interview with the company’s CEO, like most things in Russia, the Kremlin had a finger in Yota Devices and that finger was pointing in a different direction: China.
Given the fact that state-run Rostec Corporation (run by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin) owns a one-quarter stake in Yota Devices, there was bound to be some pique of interest in its phones.
Indeed, when Putin met Chinese President Xi Jinping for bilateral talks, he showed off a YotaPhone to Xi. Social buzz ensued and that led the company to pivot to the saturated Chinese market by selling the YotaPhone 2 there and also find a partner in ZTE for the YotaPhone 3.
Just last month, Yota’s founder sold a 65 percent stake to a Hong Kong-based holdings company.
All of this is happening in the hopes of improving YotaPhone shipments to one million units annually, compared to the 100,000 shipments last year.
Geopolitically speaking, the US and Russia are nearly, if not actually fighting a proxy war in Syria while China has accused the US of disregarding its territorial claims — dubious claims when met with international seafaring law.
It’s an interesting parallel to observe, at the very least.