Chinese manufacturer ZTE is backing its push into the UK with a £5m war chest after identifying the market as crucial to its future growth.
The company will use its marketing spend to back partner launches of forthcoming and existing devices. Its latest smartphone, the Grand X, was unveiled last week and will go on sale through Phones 4u and Virgin Media next month.
ZTE is aiming to build its presence among retailer and operator partners after launching a series of own-branded devices. He Shiyou (pictured), executive VP of ZTE, said the company wanted to ‘move forward from low-end to high-end smartphones’. Shiyou is anticipating global smartphone sales of around 100 million, double that of last year, with ‘significant’ growth in the UK.
ZTE will use the UK market as one of three testing grounds, along with France and Germany. Wu Sa, director of mobile device operations for the UK, said: ‘The UK is a liberal and very competitive market and consumers have a lot of choice. It’s on the leading edge of phone development so it’s important for ZTE to establish ourselves in this market. It will serve as a very important test ground and we will bring learnings from here to other markets.’ Wu Sa revealed that the company is designing and developing devices with UK consumers in mind.
ZTE has already signed two exclusive deals with Virgin Media this year for its Tania and Kis smartphones. Wu Sa said these partnership deals were a critical part of its strategy to ‘bring ZTE much closer to the British consumer’. He added: ‘I recognise we are a relatively smaller player so we have a focused strategy on key countries and key channel partners rather than spreading ourselves everywhere.’
Chris Edwards, marketing and business development director at ZTE, confirmed further partnership deals were planned for 2013 as it looks to increase sales. He said the Grand X was indicative of ZTE’s strategy of bringing more higher spec devices to market, adding: ‘When we started talking to consumers we found there’s a vast amount of them who want affordable and relevant technology. We believe there aren’t many people providing that in the market. ZTE believes it can bring products that are high spec but relevant to the mass market at an affordable price point.’
ZTE also reaffirmed its commitment to Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, with its first device set to launch next year. The company plans to release approximately one Windows handset for every three Android devices.
Wu Sa said the UK market should not be concerned about ZTE’s recent profit warning, which projected that its half-year profits could fall by 80%. He said: ‘We are still seeing growth globally on the device side. It continues to be a healthy part of the business.’