ZTE forecast that there will be 100 billion connected devices by 2020, including 50 billion connected sensors that will make up the Internet of Things, trumping similar forecasts made by rivals such as Huawei, Cisco and Ericsson.

Cisco and Ericsson have both previously put a figure of 50 billion connections by 2020, which at the time seemed ambitious. In April, Huawei touted a figure of 100 billion at its Global Analyst Summit, although it pushed out the timeframe to 2025.

ZTE made the aggressive forecast in line with its Global Analysts Conference in Shanghai, where it talked up its Enabler@M-ICT strategy, which sees it looking to deliver “world-class innovations” in four key areas: smart pipes, mobile devices, cloud-based services and big data infrastructure systems.

In a statement, it said that this “effectively synthesises ZTE’s industry-leading assets in telecommunications, enterprise ICT and terminal devices to generate greater value for customers and partners in the Mobile-ICT era of seamless service convergence and increased user interactivity”.

This year, it has reorganised its operations into three primary business groups and divisions: Operator Solutions, Enterprise Business and Mobile Devices.

The Operator Solutions unit will focus on serving larger-sized markets and geographic regions, “helping operators innovate in new services and business models”. It is also looking to grow its services business, to increase the value and profitability of this unit.

The Enterprise Business will focus on target verticals including transportation, energy, public utilities, financial and Internet.

Its Mobile Devices division detailed a “Smart 2.0” age, “when users will enjoy personalised and productive applications that can be seamlessly accessed on their smartphones, tablets, wearables, gaming consoles, and myriad other connected devices”.

According to Reuters, the company said it expects to ship more than 80 million smartphones globally next year, up from the 60 million it is forecasting for 2014, accompanied by a 15 per cent increase in revenue at the devices unit.

“To deliver increased user value, we need to make the leap into the ‘Smart 2.0’ age to provide customers with the improved user experience they deserve,” said Adam Zeng, CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices.

Interestingly, Zeng also identified voice control as the “key gateway” for IoT, “as it is the most intuitive way for humans to interact with machines”.

The company’s Grand S II and Star 1 smartphones, launched this year, are said to feature “some of the most advanced voice-recognition technologies available on the market”.

In the devices space, the company is also strengthening its e-commerce and retail channels, as it looks to diversify its channels to market and reducing its reliance on operator partners.