Smartphone firm rockets into the US

Updated: 2013-10-15 00:03

By Shen Jingting (China Daily)

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Partnership

There are 42 ZTE mobile phones selling in the US market now, with eight smartphones supporting LTE fourth-generation (4G) networks, he said.

"The next goal for ZTE is to be a top three smartphone vendor in the United States," said Cheng. That means the company is targeting LG, and the Houston Rockets partnership officially kicked off that strategy.

Neil Shah, a research director at Hong Kong-based CounterPoint Research, said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle that ZTE has been helped by weaker US performances from companies like Motorola and HTC.

But for long-term success, the Chinese company needs a positive brand pull, like the ones that HTC, Samsung and LG had, Shah said.

"ZTE needs to actively invest in invigorating its own brand in addition to state-of-the-art shiny hardware. Partnering with the Houston Rockets is a good step in the right direction for ZTE," he added.

Among ZTE's 300 staff in the United States, about 80 percent are local residents.

"Another experience for us is that we need to highlight the importance of localization," said Liu at ZTE.

It is critical to communicate with your customers in a way they easily understand, Liu added. Therefore, all the salespeople who deal with customers face to face are local staff. ZTE also set up a research and development center in Dallas.

Many Chinese handset makers have made their way into the top 10 globally, thanks to high-volume shipments of low- to mid-end mobile phones. Some of them reached leading positions in emerging markets, but few companies have made major progress in mature markets, such as in Europe and North America.

ZTE's US expansion may provide ideas to Chinese peers, said Xiang Ligang, a Beijing-based telecom industry expert.

"Chinese mobile phone vendors have ambitions to go global, but they need to figure out effective methods to conquer different markets. The North American market, no doubt, is the most difficult," Xiang said.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, a leading telecom gear and smartphone vendor, pays great attention to the European market, since it faces overwhelming political pressure in the US.

Huawei launched its new flagship smartphone, the Ascend P6, in London in June. Yu Chengdong, chief executive officer of Huawei's Consumer Business Group, said that Huawei would invest 270 million yuan ($43.98 million) in branding and marketing in Europe.

Lenovo Group Ltd, one of the fastest-growing smartphone companies in the world, aims to reduce its reliance on the home market and grow its businesses internationally, according to Liu Jun, senior vice-president of the company.

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