Chinese multinational ZTE is managing to grow market momentum in the U.S. according to company executive Jeff Yee, who has been speaking about future strategy at the recent Mobile World Congress Americas in San Francisco. The Shenzhen-based telecommunications company continues to drive sales in the U.S., while other Chinese smartphone makers have not entered the market at all or have not made a significant impression so far. Samsung and Apple are dominant in the 2017 U.S. smartphone market, with 31.3% and 28.2% market share respectively, according to Q2 figures from Counterpoint. Meanwhile, LG is in third position with a market share of 15.4% and ZTE has now attained an 11.5% share to become the fourth largest seller stateside. This is despite the fact that ZTE's initiative to make headway in the U.S. so far has been mainly focused on low to mid-range prepaid models, with providers such as AT&T subsidiary Cricket Wireless and T-Mobile's MetroPCS, rather than high-end smartphones. As part of the bigger picture, the U.S. smartphone market is back in growth with an overall 14% YoY increase in shipments.
ZTE has a growing reputation for producing a broad offering of smartphones with a wide range of appeal, affordable prices, and decent specs. The company's Jeff Yee is VP of Technology Planning and Partnerships and pointed to a recent deal with Verizon as a notable reason for the company's increasing impact on the U.S. market. The largest wireless carrier in the nation now offers the low-end ZTE Cymbal feature phone as a prepaid option, and this could pave the way for ZTE to gain further traction through Verizon to offer a larger range of handsets including higher-end models at some stage. Another reason for the company's growth pertained to sales of the affordable ZTE Max XL, which arrived on Sprint's prepaid brand Boost Mobile back in April this year.
Speaking of future opportunities to make further headway in the U.S. market, Yee mentioned expanding out of the prepaid sector, and also said that ZTE might have a chance to progress further with higher-end smartphones due to current 5G network developments taking place. As well as smartphones, Yee said further growth could come from expansion into other areas, such as wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT). He specifically mentioned successful sales of ZTE's SyncUp Drive hotspot for autos as a case in point, and also said that the company is developing IoT modules for other device manufacturers. Other recent developments points to more opportunities for growth, as there were rumors earlier this month about a ZTE and AT&T partnership for an upcoming high-end product dubbed the Axon Multy that would sport a dual-screen that could unfold to make a tablet-like device. Some specifications about the unannounced device have leaked and it's thought it could launch in October, but so far there have been no leaked images.