Chinese vendor ZTE aims to boost smartphone shipments to the US this year by 20 per cent to 20 million units.
ZTE’s US CEO Lixin Cheng told Reuters that shipments to the US last year expanded 50 per cent, topping its 20 per cent global growth.
Like other domestic makers in China, ZTE is looking to foreign markets for growth as sales slow in the world’s largest smartphone market. IDC reported recently that shipments in China fell 4.3 per cent in Q1 to 98.8 million units, the first time in six years that the market has declined year-on-year.
But Shenzhen-based ZTE has been in the US market for a number of years. At CES in January Cheng clamed ZTE was the country’s fourth largest smartphone brand, with 7.8 per cent market share in Q4. “We have 20 million active users in the US,” he said.
Today’s Reuters report notes that the firm has aspirations of becoming the country’s third-largest smartphone vendor within three years.
In a continued effort to build brand awareness for its lineup of smartphones in the US, last October it signed multi-year corporate sponsorship agreements with two additional US professional basketball teams — the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors.
Those deals came a year after the Chinese vendor entered into a similar deal with the Houston Rockets for an undisclosed amount.
Cheng said ZTE is now looking to sponsor another NBA team this year.
Despite its success in the US, its global smartphone market share has fallen as fast-rising Xiaomi has expanded in China and globally. ZTE is also feeling pressure from a combined Lenovo-Motorola (third) and fierce rival Huawei, which consolidated its fourth place ranking in Q1 (up to 5.2 per cent from 4.7 per cent a year ago, according to IDC).
Some research firms have ZTE dropping to eighth globally last year from sixth in 2013, with 46.1 million units shipped and a 3.5 per cent share. In 2012 it had a 4.3 per cent share of the worldwide smartphone market.
ZTE’s operating revenue from handsets in Q1 rose 7 per cent compared to the same period last year, reflecting mainly higher sales of 4G handsets.