ZTE aims to sell first smartphone in the U.S. this year

The Chinese company will double its device portfolio for the North American market

Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE plans to launch its first smartphone in the U.S. this year, a move that follows the company's latest success in securing a bigger hold of the mobile phone market.

ZTE made big gains in the mobile phone market in 2010, becoming the fourth largest handset vendor ahead of Apple, according to research firm IDC. During that year, the company saw handset shipments rise by 94 percent, up to 51.8 million units.

Now the company wants to increase smartphone sales in 2011 by five times, up to 10 million units. For the North American market, ZTE said it will more than double its device portfolio. The company adds that it hopes to also sell tablet devices in the U.S. this year.

ZTE, a network equipment supplier, also builds phones for mobile carriers. The company has historically focused on developing lower and middle-end handsets. But on Monday, the company announced a new strategy that would shift development toward the higher-end, by building more smartphone, tablet and Internet TV box devices.

While ZTE has yet to launch a smartphone in the U.S., the company saw one of its lower-end handsets offered by Verizon Wireless last year. Called the Salute, the device was available at the time for US$20 with a two-year contract.

Earlier this week, ZTE unveiled a new low-cost smartphone called the Skate at the Mobile World Congress. The device has a 4.3-inch screen and runs the Android 2.3 operating system. The phone will start shipping globally in May. The company is also preparing to launch a tablet running Android 3.0 in the third quarter.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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