ZTE sees 40% handset growth in 2008

While major handset vendors saw their businesses decline in 2008, Chinese vendor ZTE saw its handset shipments increase by 40% in 2008 to reach 45 million units, according to a report in Taiwanese-based DigiTimes. This momentum means ZTE may realize its goal of becoming one of the top five handset manufacturers by 2011.

ZTE has gained some important handset deals with Vodafone, Hutchison, T-Mobile and other operators in Italy and Australia and is working to target the lower end segment with higher end features such as touchscreens and Windows Mobile. Last month, the Chinese vendor said it planned to make a major smartphone push in the U.S. market in 2009, including possibly partnering with Verizon Wireless on a dual-mode CDMA/LTE handset.

ZTE's counterpart Huawei has also gained momentum, racking up infrastructure contracts. The vendor has won a 3G deal with Cox and is reportedly a finalist to win a WiMAX contract with Clearwire.

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