ZTE looking to crack US phone market

Chinese handset maker will launch high-end smartphones in the U.S. next year and expects country to be its biggest market by 2015.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor on

Chinese phonemaker ZTE plans to lauch high-end mobile handsets in the United States with hopes of expanding beyond its low-cost roots in the market.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Cheng Lixin, ZTE president for North American region, said the company will launch LTE (long term evolution) and high-tier smartphones in the U.S. market next year. ZTE is already in talks with the top four U.S. carriers about its future phones, which are expected to run on Google Android or Microsoft Windows Phone 7 mobile operating systems, said the report.

Cheng added that ZTE expects the U.S. to be its biggest market by 2015, noting that shipment of ZTE handsets to the country grew 157 percent in the third quarter compared to last year. With the new phones, the Chinese phonemaker hopes to "offer an alternative" to the Apple iPhone with similar feature sets but at more affordable price points, said the executive.

The company is more recognized for its operator-branded low-cost handset in the U.S. where its market share has been small. According to a Comscore report, ZTE did not make it into the top 5 mobile vendor ranking in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2011. The company fared better in the global mobile phone market, landing in fifth position during the same quarter, according to figures from Gartner.

Besides mobile handsets, ZTE also manufactures telecoms equipment. However, Cheng noted that the company sees more opportunities in mobile devices than networking equipment in the U.S. due to problems related to national security. Just last month, the U.S. intelligence unit commenced investigations of Chinese telecommunications vendors to assess potential threats to national security.

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