Business / Gadgets

ZTE aims to sell 60m smartphones in 2014

By Shen Jingting (China Daily) Updated: 2014-01-21 10:01

Demand for next-generation models set to surge amid expansion of 4G

ZTE Corp, China's second-largest telecom equipment maker, said it aims to sell more than 60 million smartphones this year and to become the world's third-largest smartphone vendor by 2016.

Zeng Xuezhong, ZTE's executive vice-president, said the company sold more than 40 million smartphones last year and that it expects a significant increase in sales this year.

Zeng took the helm of ZTE's terminal business 20 days ago, after the Shenzhen-based company announced a major restructuring move.

"The Chinese market will likely become a global focus this year and will probably see the fastest growth rate among all the markets," Zeng said at a news briefing in Beijing on Monday.

He also said ZTE will launch affordable smartphones costing about 1,000 yuan ($165) per unit, in the Chinese market this year.

Demand for next-generation smartphones will surge in the near future, since Chinese telecom carriers are stepping up efforts to set up fourth-generation networks and offer 4G services, said Xiang Ligang, a Beijing-based telecom expert.

China Mobile Ltd - the world's largest telecom operator by subscriber base - plans to buy about 100 million 4G smartphones from all of its handset partners this year.

Meanwhile, even though Apple Inc recently signed a multiyear agreement with China Mobile to sell its iPhone devices in the Chinese carrier's stores, analysts said that Apple may only get a small share of China Mobile's business.

"Apple's iPhone handsets are too expensive for many Chinese customers," Xiang said.

Domestic mobile phone players, such as ZTE andLenovo Group Ltd, are more capable of attracting low to mid-end 4G phone buyers, which account for the most important part of the Chinese market.

Ni Fei, head of ZTE's Nubia smartphone unit, said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal that Apple surely will not eat all of China Mobile's 4G cake.

"There will be big pieces for major Chinese vendors like ZTE," Ni said.

ZTE launched the Nubia smartphone brand in 2012. The brand relies on online channels to distribute its products and targets high-end smartphone buyers.

Zeng said on Monday that ZTE fully supports Nubia's development and expects the brand to see much faster growth this year.

He added that because the majority of smartphone users are people under age 35, ZTE said its mobile team should be led by young managers.

"More young people, mostly from the post-1980s generation, will emerge in the high-level management space of ZTE's terminal sector," Zeng said.

In addition, the company will pay more attention to mobile phone design, user interfaces and applications, instead of merely focusing on good hardware, he added.

On Monday, ZTE also said its net profit in 2013 ranged between 1.2 billion yuan and 1.5 billion yuan, after it recorded a net loss of 2.84 billion yuan in 2012.

ZTE said stringent controls over low-margin contracts, improved margins for global projects and cost-control measures helped it to improve its performance.

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