ZTE is ramping up its ambitions in the mobile phone market, with plans to significantly boost smartphone shipments this year and challenge the leading positions of Apple and Samsung in the next eight years.
The company plans to more than double its smartphone shipments to 35 million units this year from 15 million in 2011, Lv Qianhao, head of ZTE handset strategy told TelecomsEMEA.net. Of the total, a large proportion will be mid- and high-end smartphones for key markets in Asia, Europe and North America, Lv adds.
Lv says the firm wants to become the world’s third largest mobile phone manufacturer by 2015, and turn the ZTE brand into a well-known smartphone brand such as Apple and Samsung this year.
“In future there will be only five to eight major players in the [mobile phone] market, with the top three vendors taking 80% of the market share and 50% of the total revenues,” Lv said. “Under such circumstances you’ve either get into the top three position or you’re doomed to close.”
The firm is already on-track to meet those goals. Lv says revenues from its terminals business, which includes smartphones, grew 22.2% year-on-year in the first quarter, and contributed 30% of the company’s total revenues compared to 20% in 2011. Research firm IDC ranked ZTE as the world’s number four handset vendor by shipments in the first quarter. Total shipments reached 19.1 million and ZTE's market share was 4.8%, exceeding LG, which had 3.6%.
To achieve its long-term goals, the company is stepping up its efforts in introducing more premium smartphones to increase its presence in the mid- and high-end segments. Lv notes the firm’s presence in the low-end device segment has been boosted by its Blade series, while its Skate series is already paying off in the mid-tier sector, with five million units shipped by June. ZTE’s assault on high-end markets is spearheaded by the Grand series, which launched in May.
A key product of that series is the Grand X LTE (872), ZTE’s first single-chip LTE smartphone which is due to launch in Asia and Europe during the third quarter.
As well as focus on the volume and quality of handsets, Lv says ZTE will also continue to invest heavily in R&D and brand promotion, as well as extend channel partners and enhance user experience. “Unlike feature phones, customer experience is the most vital part for smartphones and the future battle on the mobile phone market will be on user experience and IPR.”
The company will also install more servers, expand its number of authorized service centers, and set up customer experience centers in major cities in China, Europe and North America to provide better after-sale customer service and training to consumers.