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ZTE targets top three spot in handset market

Chinese manufacturer ZTE has Apple in its sights, sitting in fourth place, just a few percentage points behind the US firm in terms of handset market share. At a launch event in London on Wednesday evening, He Shiyou, executive VP of the ZTE handsets division, told telecoms.com that ZTE plans to optimise its device portfolio upwards to the mid-to-high range from the mid-to-low tier in order to close that gap. The flagship device for this move is the Grand X, a device targeted at the mobile gaming market.

The dual-core 4.3-inch screen smartphone combines an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core chipset with Android Ice Cream Sandwich and 512MB RAM gearing the device up for gaming for a wider audience.

The device will be available in the UK from Virgin Media on prepay for £189.99 with Phones 4u pricing and tariffs to be confirmed. The unit sports ZTE’s own branding as the company continues to carve out its own space in the market.

At present ten per cent of ZTE’s handset sales through the channel are own-branded devices, but He said the firm intends to build that to 30 or 40 per cent over time, although he acknowledged there was still a “process” to go through to get the ZTE brand accepted by consumers.

Although it is now tailing Apple in terms of handset market share (7.9 per cent to Apple versus 4.2 per cent to ZTE, according to Gartner at end 1Q), the company intends to be in the top three handset vendors by 2015 in terms of market share and in the top five in terms of revenues and brand recognition by the same date.

However, the company did warn earlier this week that its first half profit is on course to drop up to 80 per cent in 2012, with the firm blaming reduced investment income, losses from foreign exchange and a drop in domestic revenue.

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