China's ZTE hopes high-end phones will boost sales in 2015

The company asserts that the higher end of the market is central to its success.

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James Martin/CNET

China-based phone maker ZTE believes the key to its future success is to take on flagship smartphones, according to a new report.

Speaking to Reuters in an interview published Monday, ZTE Executive Vice President Zeng Xuezong said that over the next couple of years, his company plans to invest in "more and more premium smartphones." He added that the devices, coupled with his firm's "brand awareness," could help ZTE become a stiff competitor to Apple and Samsung in China.

Although the main thrust of ZTE's smartphone efforts will focus on high-end devices for China, the US will also get a taste of the company in the coming year. Zeng said that ZTE plans to boost its US marketing budget this year by 100 percent.

ZTE is the world's fourth-largest device-maker, thanks in large part to a massive customer base in China. China appears to be tops in the company's plans this year and next. At the same time, finding a home for its devices in the US has proven extremely difficult.

As CNET's Lynn La pointed out in February, ZTE has tried to make inroads into the US market over the past year, showcasing new devices, like the Grand S and the Nubia 5. However, neither device could attract carriers in the US, leaving ZTE with precious little brand awareness. The aforementioned investment plans could help ZTE attract more customers, but that's only if ZTE can get over its issues with the US government.

In 2012, ZTE and fellow China-based phone maker Huawei went before lawmakers to prove that they were not surreptitiously working on behalf of the Chinese government to provide an avenue for spying on the US through smartphones and telecommunications equipment.

Not long after the companies sat before congressional hearings, US lawmakers said consumers shouldn't even consider buying their products. Although the unrest died down in 2013, the shadow still looms large, and it's one that ZTE, which has consistently said is free from any relationship with the Chinese government, is trying to overcome with its brand awareness campaign.

It is possible, though, that a solid device could help overcome concerns. And according to Reuters, ZTE has some devices up its sleeve that the company believes will make for strong competitors to current high-end devices.

CNET has contacted ZTE for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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