ZTE scales down smartphone product lines, bets on smart voice tech

Staff writer

ZTE is revamping its smartphone strategy by streamlining its product lines and focusing on creating a new customer experience with new features such as voice control functions and smart sense technologies.

The company will cut down the number of new models of smartphone production and focus mainly on three core smartphone brands – ZTE Grand, ZTE Star and ZTE Blade, in addition to the Nubia brand, according to ZTE Mobile Devices CEO Adam Zeng.

“We’re now not going to focus on quantity but more on quality and bringing value to our customers (with new features),” Zeng told a media briefing at the recent Mobile World Congress.

Zeng said ZTE is aiming to increase global shipments of its smartphones to 60 million units this year, from 48 million in 2014.

Geographically, the company will be focusing on key markets such as China, US, Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America in its mobile devices business this year.

In US, ZTE has already become the fourth largest vendor with 7% of share in the market, and the company’s goal is to become the top three smartphone makers by 2017, Zeng added.

Zeng said ZTE will continue its efforts in educating and increasing consumer awareness about the ZTE brand. He didn’t reveal the total amount of marketing budget ZTE for this year but said ZTE will increase the 2015 marketing budget by over 50% from a year earlier.

Another key focus for the future development of ZTE’s devices, Zeng said, is voice control technology.

As part of its push, ZTE formed the Smart Voice Alliance, together with partners including Audience, Nuance, AutoNavi, Baidu, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2014.

According to a report commissioned by the Smart Voice Alliance, conducted by GfK China, over 80% of Chinese smartphone users surveyed expressed an interest in voice control, indicating that they are either currently using or would like to use a voice-controlled smartphone.

Among this group of users, 41% were willing to purchase a voice-controlled smartphone and voice control was ranked after brand, price and quality as an important influencing factor for consumers when buying a new smartphone.

As well as the smartphones, such as the ZTE Star2, ZTE also plans to add the voice control feature into to wearables, connected cars and M2M in future, Zeng added.

At the Mobile World Congress, ZTE unveiled the new ZTE Grand S3, ZTE Star 2, ZTE Blade S6 smartphones and the Spro 2 projector - the only smart projector with a touchscreen Android operating system.

The  ZTE Grand S3, launched in partnership with EyeVerify, is one of the industry’s first phones featuring the Eyeprint ID retina-sensing technology
 
ZTE said the ZTE Star 2, first launched in China in December, is the industry’s first smartphone with system-level voice control technology, featuring English-language GPS and speech-to-text input that supports British English. The ZTE Blade S6 comes with ZTE’s Smart Sense – offering users a set of gesture and motion controls.  

All these devices are available in Europe this month.

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