ZTE ready for new UK push after admitting mistakes

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Company to increase marketing spend and ‘get products to more consumers’

ZTE says its target for 2014 is to re-establish itself in the UK market after admitting it struggled to compete with its rivals as it didn’t have the product range available in the region.

The company will target five key European markets this year in all, to accelerate growth and increase market share: the UK, France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

ZTE will double its marketing spend in these regions to achieve this, although the manufacturer’s handset marketing strategy general manager LV Qianhao declined to reveal exactly how much it would spend.

It is thought to be a seven-digit sum. It also said it plans to double its workforce in Europe this year, but again declined to provide further details.

In discussions
It is also looking to get its products into the hands of more consumers through a variety of channels this year, and revealed it is in discussions with three UK distributors to help it achieve this.

The Chinese company is expected to make a joint announcement with Exertis Micro-P but declined to comment on this.

The manufacturer’s phones are not on sale with any of the high street mobile retailers or operators in the UK, with just its Blade Q device available at Virgin Media for £59.99 on prepay through a mass retail perspective.

ZTE unveiled the Grand Memo II LTE at Mobile World Congress, which runs the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. It is 7.2mm thick and has a six-inch screen, 13-megpaixel rear and five-megapixel front cameras, and HD video recording and playback functionalities.

It comes equipped with a 3,200mAh battery that the firm claims will allow for 16 hours continuous HD video viewing when fully-charged.

Leading the charge
Qianhao admitted that with Samsung and Apple dominating the UK with two thirds of the total market share between them, ZTE has found it difficult to compete as it transferred from a company known for feature phones to one specialising in smartphones.

However, he revealed the Grand Memo II LTE, which is due for release in the UK before the end of Q2, will lead its charge to re-establish itself in the region, with several other high-end and flagship smartphones to follow.

“The UK smartphone market is extremely heavily dominated by Samsung and Apple and it is for this reason that we haven’t been ready for the UK. We simply didn’t have a smartphone range to compete with them,” Qianhao said.

“From 2009 until 2010 we had a partnership with Vodafone to introduce 3G mobile devices in the UK which enabled us to become a top five feature phone vendor in the UK. We have become known for feature phones and we have focused on transferring from traditional feature phones to smartphones, especially over the past two or three years.

“Operators don’t dominate the UK market as much as other markets so distributors become more important. We will make more effort to work with distributors in order to bring more innovative devices to stores. We will have more channels to get our products to customers so they know who we are and provide them with greater flagship devices.

“All this will improve our competitive ability. Beginning with the Grand Memo II, we will have the portfolio to compete with the bigger manufacturers in the UK.

“We will introduce more and more attractive flagship smartphones and innovation. Make no mistake, the UK is a very important market for ZTE this year.”

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