Chinese telecom giant, ZTE Corporation, is reportedly planning to open 23 flagship stores worldwide to showcase its consumer electronics products, such as smartphones, tablets and routers. The company expects all these stores to be up and running by the end of this year. According to the CEO of ZTE's mobile devices business, Mr. Adam Zheng, 20 of these stores will be in major cities in China, while the other three will be in Germany, Russia and Mexico. Mr. Zheng also said that the stores will help the company "lift brand awareness while spurring sales in the areas we value the most". ZTE had managed to ship 56 million smartphones last year, and is looking to ship around 70 million this year.
The company markets smartphones under the Nubia and Axon brands, but the majority of its sales comes from carrier-branded budget devices sold by wireless network operators to prepaid customers in China, Europe and North America. Even though ZTE's smartphone business is having a fairly decent time of late, its bread-and-butter telecom equipment business has been under a bit of stress in recent times. The company got into some hot water with the U.S. Department of Commerce for allegedly violating a trade embargo placed on Iran. While the company did get a temporary reprieve from the export ban, the U.S. authorities are also investigating the company's alleged business links with other countries that are also currently facing economic sanctions from the U.S. federal government.
Federal officials and lawmakers in America have also expressed concerns about using network equipment from Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei, given their association with the Communist regime in their homeland. So even as ZTE is desperately trying to expand its network equipment business beyond its boundaries, such apprehensions expressed in the corridors of power mean that the company is still not any closer to getting large contracts from major American carriers, in spite of its best efforts. As for its mobile devices business, though, the company is steadily improving its market share, and a recent report from IDC actually indicated that the company owns a 3.4% share of all handsets sold globally during the first three months of this year.