ZTE targets Europe with high-end LTE smartphones

Chinese vendor ZTE is planning to boost smartphone shipments by 50 per cent this year with a focus on LTE-based handsets. The company said it is looking to increase sales by concentrating its efforts in developed markets such as Europe, the United States and Japan.

While ZTE reported a net loss of $466 million last year, blaming delays in domestic and international network projects, Lv Qianhao, its head of handset strategy, told Reuters that its smartphone sales would make up 70 per cent of overall consumer device sales this year.

"We would like to raise the percentage of mid- to high-range smartphones. That's the direction we're heading," he said during an event in Hong Kong, adding that ZTE aims to increase its smartphone revenues by around 40 per cent this year from last year. ZTE's smartphone shipments shot up 48 per cent in the fourth quarter to 9.5 million units, giving the company 4.3 percent of the global market, according to IDC.

"At present, consumers can easily recognize Apple or Samsung branded smartphones," Lv told Bloomberg. "We hope consumers can also easily recognise ZTE's brand in the future."

However, Macquarie Group analyst  Lisa Soh says shipment growth will probably be slower than the company's expectations. "The smartphone market both domestically and internationally will remain competitive in 2013," Soh told Bloomberg, adding that she forecasts a 32 per cent increase in the company's smartphone shipments this year. "ZTE may have to sacrifice pricing in order to see significant volume uplift."

In the fourth-quarter smartphone market, ZTE ranked No.5, trailing Samsung Electronics, Apple, Huawei and Sony Mobile Communications, according to IDC.

Separately, ZTE indicated it is planning to launch a smartphone based on Mozilla's Firefox OS at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. The company confirmed that it will launch at least two new devices at the event—the Grand Memo and a Firefox-based device.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Engadget article

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