China's ZTE Corp has Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics in its crosshairs as it targets rapid expansion in the US smartphone market.
ZTE, China's second-largest telecom equipment maker, is confident of beating its 2011 target of shipping 80 million mobile devices and its looking to make the United States its top market in three to five years, an executive said Tuesday.
"Success in the US is the proof required to say you have global success," said He Shiyou, executive vice president of ZTE and head of the firm's terminals division.
"It's like if you want to become a global film star. You have to go to Hollywood. There is no film star that is a global film star and not known in Hollywood," he said.
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With smartphones now accounting for more than 50 per cent of handsets in the world's biggest economy, there should be increased opportunities for late entrants such as ZTE.
The US formed ten per cent of ZTE's handset business in 2010, behind Europe which makes up 15-20 per cent and China at 35 per cent. ZTE is hoping to accelerate growth in the US market through ventures with T-Mobile, AT and T and Sprint.
"I think two years ago, or even a year ago, this is something that was impossible," said Alvin Kwock, a Hong-Kong based JPMorgan analyst. "But at this point in time, when the penetration rate in the US is exceeding 50 per cent, when it comes to the next level of penetration, some people would want a lower-priced set."
ZTE is ranked the sixth-largest handset maker by unit shipments globally.