Chinese telecommunications equipment and systems manufacturer ZTE’s foray into consumer electronics could best be described as being a bit rocky. Even in their home base of China, they’ve seen upstarts like Xiaomi, OPPO, Gionee and the likes, go far beyond what they have been able to achieve, both in terms of market share as well as occupying the mind space of the consumer. Their strength in the smartphone industry has been carrier-branded entry-level handsets in Europe and the US, for the price-conscious customers. The lucrative, high-end premium devices market, has thus far, remained a step too far for them. Speaking at the IFA 2015, Mr. Waiman Lam, senior director of technology and partnerships at ZTE, said that they are looking to change that by offering more ZTE branded devices to raise consumer awareness about the brand.
In order for that to happen, ZTE will need to market their branded handsets better and their upcoming Nubia Z9 along with its siblings the Z9 Max and the Z9 Mini will give them an opportunity to do just that. It will be a big step for ZTE towards hopefully stepping out of the shadows of being a white box manufacturer for the carriers, to a brand that can carry its own weight when jostling for the end consumer. Even as the ZTE brand continues to remain largely unknown in the US, Mr. Lam said that they’ve still increased their market share in the pre-paid devices market, where ZTE currently holds 21 percent of the market share, making it the second largest pre-paid handset OEM in the US. Mr. Lam also claimed the ZTE commands as much as seven percent of the overall handsets market as well. Which is no doubt squarely on the strength of their success in the pre-paid market. Some of the devices that ZTE offers to U.S. consumers include the ZTE Speed for $100 without a contract and in partnership with Boost Mobile and the ZTE Emblem in partnership with Virgin Mobile.
The occasion also gave an opportunity for Mr. Lam to launch a smart projector and mobile hotspot dubbed the ZTE Spro 2 that runs on Android and can stream content from mobiles, tablets, gaming consoles, USB drives etc. The device is available from AT&T for $399 with a two-year contract and $499 contract free.