The company was founded in 1981 under the brand name TTK as a cassette manufacturer. In 1985, after being sued by TDK for intellectual property violation, the company changed its brand name to TCL by taking the initials from Telephone Communication Limited. It began manufacturing consumer electronics for the Chinese market during the 1980s, and began to sell overseas in the 2000s.
TCL Corporation (originally an abbreviation for Telephone Communication Limited) is a partially state-owned Chinese multinational electronics company headquartered in Huizhou, Guangdong Province. It designs, develops, manufactures and sells products including television sets, mobile phones, air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators and small electrical appliances. In 2010 it was the world’s 25th-largest consumer electronics producer. Since 2015, it remains the third-largest television manufacturer by market share.
TCL comprises four listed companies: TCL Corporation which is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, and TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings, Ltd. (SEHK: 1070), TCL Communication Technology Holdings, Ltd.(former code SEHK: 2618; delisted in 2016), TCL Display Technology (SEHK: 334) and Tonly Electronics (SEHK: 1249) which are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
TCL’s corporate slogan is “The Creative Life”
The company was founded in 1981 under the brand name TTK as a cassette manufacturer. In 1985, after being sued by TDK for intellectual property violation, the company changed its brand name to TCL by taking the initials from Telephone Communication Limited. It began manufacturing consumer electronics for the Chinese market during the 1980s, and began to sell overseas in the 2000s. Though a state-owned enterprise, TCL was established as a joint venture with several Hong Kong-based investors.
On 19 September 2002, TCL announced the acquision of all consumer electronics related assets of the former German company Schneider Rundfunkwerke AG, including the right to use its trademarks as Schneider, Dual, Albona, Joyce and Logix.
In July 2003, TCL chairman Li Dongsheng formally announced a “Dragon and Tiger Plan” to establish two competitive TCL businesses in global markets (“Dragons”) and three leading businesses inside China (“Tigers”).
In November 2003, TCL and Thomson SA of France announced the creation of a joint venture to produce televisions and DVD players worldwide. TCL took a 67 percent stake in the joint venture, with Thomson SA holding the rest of the shares, and it was agreed that televisions made by TCL-Thomson would be marketed under the TCL brand in Asia and the Thomson and RCA brands in Europe and North America.
In April 2004, TCL and Alcatel announced the creation of a mobile phone manufacturing joint venture: Alcatel Mobile Phones. TCL injected 55 million euros in the venture in return for a 55 per cent shareholding.
In May 2005, TCL announced that its Hong Kong-listed unit would acquire Alcatel’s 45 per cent stake in their mobile-phone joint venture for consideration of HK$63.34 million ($8.1 million) worth of TCL Communication shares.
In June 2007, TCL announced that its mobile phone division planned to cease using the Alcatel brand and switch entirely to the TCL brand within five years.
In April 2008, Samsung Electronics announced that it would be outsourcing the production of some LCD TV modules to TCL.
In July 2008, TCL announced that it planned to raise 1.7 billion yuan ($249 million) via a share placement on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange to fund the construction of two production lines for LCD televisions; one for screens of up to 42 inches, and the other for screens of up to 56 inches. TCL sold a total of 4.18 million LCD TV sets in 2008, more than triple the number during 2007.
In January 2009, TCL announced plans to double its LCD TV production capacity to 10 million units by the end of 2009.
In November 2009, TCL announced that it had formed a joint-venture with the Shenzhen government to construct an 8.5-generation thin film transistor-liquid crystal display production facility in the city at a cost of $3.9 billion.
In March 2010, TCL Multimedia raised HK$525 million through the sale of shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, in order to fund the development of its LCD and LED businesses and to generate working capital.
In May 2011, TCL launched the China Smart Multimedia Terminal Technology Association in partnership with Hisense Electric Co. and Sichuan Changhong Electric Co., with the aim of helping to establish industry standards for smart televisions.
In January 2013, TCL bought the naming rights for Grauman’s Chinese Theatre for $5 million.
In 2014, TCL changed the meaning of its identifying initials from “Telephone Communication Limited” to a branding slogan, “The Creative Life”, for commercial purposes.
In February 2014, TCL spent 280 million RMB to purchase 11% shareholdings of Tianjin 712 Communication & Broadcasting Co., Ltd, a Chinese military-owned company which produces communication devices and navigation systems for the Chinese army.
In August 2014, TCL Corporation and Tonly Electronics was implicated in bribing a government official in Guangdong province in exchange for government subsidies.
TCL is organized into five business divisions:
- Multimedia: TV sets
- Communications: cell phones and MIFI devices
- Home Appliances: for instance AC units and laundry machines
- Home Electronics / Consumer Electronics: ODM products, like DVD and etc.
- China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT): display panels for TV
In addition it has four affiliated business areas:
- Real estate and investment
- Logistics and services
- Online education
TCL has operations in more than 80 cities across Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America and South America. It has 18 R&D centers, 20 major manufacturing facilities and over 40 sales offices worldwide.
TCL Corporation also has its own research facility called TCL Corporate Research, which is located at Shenzhen, China with the objective to research cutting-edge technology innovations for other subsidiaries.
TCL’s primary products are TVs, DVD players, air conditioners, mobile phones, home appliances, electric lighting, and digital media.
It primarily sells its products under the following brand names:
- TCL (in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America, South America, and Russia (TV, air conditioners);
- Alcatel and Thomson mobile phones (global)
- BlackBerry (smartphones) global
- RCA branded electrical products in the United States.
The company, as of April 2012, is in venture with Swedish furniture giant IKEA to provide the consumer electronics behind the Uppleva integrated HDTV and entertainment system product.
In 2016, it contract manufactured the DTEK50 and DTEK60, for BlackBerry Limited, under their flagship BlackBerry brand. In December 2016, it became a licensee of the BlackBerry brand, to manufacture, distribute, and design devices for the global market. As of 2017, it distributes BlackBerry devices under the name of BlackBerry Mobile.
TCL is also the owner of the Palm brand.
Streaming television service: GoLive TV
Since 2015, TCL offers its own video streaming service: GoLive TV or simply GoLive.