Alcatel One Touch promises U.S. smartphones by second half of 2013

LAS VEGAS--Alcatel One Touch is looking to translate its success in China and other markets to the United States this year, and plans to release some of its new Android smartphones in the U.S. market during the second half of the year, according to a senior company executive.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Nicolas Zibell, Alcatel's president of the Americas and Pacific, said that the OEM is talking with U.S. carriers now and plans to unveil its partnerships early in the second half of 2013. "We are going to increase our presence in smartphones in a significant way with Tier 1 carriers," he said here during the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.

Alcatel introduced three new families of Android phones here at CES: the Idol, aimed at tech- and design-conscious consumers; the Scribe, a family of 5-inch devices marketed toward users who want a full smartphone experience but also some of the benefits of a tablet, such as photo and document editing; and the Pop, aimed at prepaid smartphone customers. 

The Idol smartphone runs Android 4.1, sports a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor and a 4.7-inch qHD IPS LCD display, and offers an 8-megapixel camera. Meanwhile, the Scribe HD also runs on Android 4.1, and is powered by MediaTek's new MT6589 1.2 GHz quad-core chipset. It also has a 5-inch IPS HD display and an 8-megapixel camera.

In addition to its new Android devices, Zibell said in 2013 Alcatel will introduce devices running Mozilla's Firefox OS. For now though, Zibell said the company is focused on building its business. "The key element of our strategy is to grow not only our global volumes but to grow our global volumes in the smartphone segment," he said. The company's business is growing in China, Europe and Latin America, Zibell said, and Alcatel hopes to continue that momentum in the U.S. market.

Alcatel One Touch is owned by Chinese manufacturing company TCL, which purchase the Alcatel phone business in 2005 from what is now Alcatel-Lucent. TCL has retained the Alcatel brand for its phones.

In the third quarter of 2012, Alcatel's corporate parent TCL was the No. 7 handset maker in the world, according to ABI Research. ABI reported that TCL delivered 2 million smartphone shipments in that quarter, which represented a 1,200 percent growth year-over-year. 

In the U.S., Alcatel is mainly known for mid-range messaging devices, but has established relationships with Tier 1 carriers, including AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA. Zibell said that Alcatel has been slow to increase its marketing in the United States compared with other markets, but plans to boost its presence this year. "We needed to have a significant distribution before making marketing investment," he said.

Zibell said that while Alcatel has not finalized its marketing plans for 2013, the company plans to bank on a consumer-oriented brand position, based around design, colorful, high-end specifications, performance and affordability. "We are trying to focus all of our marketing messages around those values," Zibell said.

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