Throwback Time: iOcean


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The other day when I was writing the ‘IUNI is officially dead‘ article, I slowly came to realize that many of the companies we used to write about on GizChina have either died, become inactive or simply disappeared without a trace.

With that in mind, we decided to start a brand new series of articles called Throwback Time. In this series, we’ll take a look at what these companies were known for, their greatest product, and what happened to them after that.

Today we’ll be looking at a company that held plenty of promise, made great devices and was well liked by the community but then mysteriously vanished without a trace before they managed to release what was to be their greatest product.

Today, we’re taking a look at iOcean.

iOcean: What did they do?

Chinese smartphone companies usually start out slow when they begin their entrances into the Chinese smartphone market. Even newer companies like Vernee take their time by releasing budget devices to gain recognition before bringing in their best devices.

iOcean pretty much started out the same way. They slowly released mid-range and budget devices that never left China, and they stayed that way for quite a long time. Nobody ever expected the small Chinese company to ever approach mainstream popularity, especially with the advent of Xiaomi, Oppo and other Chinese companies on the horizon.

Despite that, iOcean put in their best efforts into making a device that they hoped would be able to help them pierce through the Chinese market and become a company capable of matching other companies like JiaYu and UMi. That product?

Their big hit

Trust me when I say nobody saw the iOcean X7 coming.

The iOcean X7 was quite a big deal when it was announced in 2013. Not only did it threaten the hold of other popular companies like UMi, JiaYu and Zopo (remember, this was 2013), but it had a fresh, angular design similar to the fantastic Oppo Find 5, a lower price point than its competitors and came with a top of the line Full HD display.

It also helped that UMi’s main flagship at the time, the UMi X2, wasn’t nearly as stellar as promised and JiaYu’s G4 wasn’t really competing with the others in the spec battle. NEO’s N003 was still months away and every other competitor was either not appealing or months away from release.

So when this really shiny new product appeared with a great design, promising specs and a low price point, everyone was excited. As if that wasn’t enough, the device also received good reviews across the board and was well liked by pretty much everyone.

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What they did after that

iOcean went on to release several devices that were fairly well received like the glass and metal iOcean X8, the smaller iOcean X8 Mini. Both were quite good devices and received warm reception from the Chinese smartphone community.

The next device to come out of the promising company was the iOcean Rock M6752, which many consider to be their worst device due to its weird combination of specs and unremarkable design. Despite that, the device still received good reviews and was well liked by people who used it.

The company then went on to launch the mid-range iOcean X1, which was largely ignored in favor of the more interesting and powerful competition. Which is a shame since the X1 was definitely a decent device.

 

After that, the iOcean X9 was release. This was where people started loosing interest in iOcean. While the X9 was still considered a good device, it was clear that some of the magic was lost and that iOcean had lost their unique touch.

Unfortunately after that, things went south for iOcean. They failed to release any more software updates, their devices slowly started disappearing from the market and the company’s social presence completely vanished after a message saying they were taking a 1 month vacation.

Before they packed up however, iOcean managed to tease the world with one last render, one that would have possibly managed to bring them back to life had it seen the light of day, the iOcean Z1. While the device never materialized, the concept art and renders are truly unique and quite good looking. Shame we’ll never see it come to life.

The End?

While iOcean may have vanished rather abruptly, what actually happened to them is somewhat foggy.

According to a review on XDA for the iOcean X9, iOcean went bankrupt in July 2015 but are hoping to restructure themselves and then reenter the Chinese market. While it is highly unlikely that it will actually happen, it’d be nice to finally see a completed Z1 on the market.

And with that, we’ve reached the end of today’s Throwback Time. Check again next time where we cover a little Chinese company called FAEA, and how this short lived company managed to get everyone excited before they packed up.

So, what do you think about these articles? What would you like to see in the next Throwback? Tell us in the comments below!

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