Over 100 industry and financial analysts attended ZTE 10th Analyst Event today in Shanghai, China this week. Our analysts from the Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) and Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) services also joined the event.
Under the new management team and organization structure, ZTE outlined its handset business performance and new drivers to fulfill its growth target. The key word is smart 2.0, which ZTE defines as a user value driven platform allowing more interactions between users and providers. ZTE targets to be the enabler of smart 2.0 and position itself as “AFFORDABLE PREMIUM”. However, we think this alone is not good enough to differentiate it from other Chinese players, such as Huawei and Coolpad.
ZTE targets to sell 60 million units of smartphones worldwide in 2014, from over 40 million units one year ago. Moreover, to improve profitability, ZTE has been cutting SKUs dramatically since last year, which means the company has to deliver more hero models to fulfill the volume growth target. The three newly launched 4G models in China market, Grand SII, Red Bull v5, and Star 1, although they have achieved encouraging pre-order volumes, we think it is going to be challenging for ZTE (and others) to really stand out in such a crowded market. Also sub-branding fragmentation is another issue ZTE needs to address.
ZTE is focusing on voice recognition technology and believes it will be a key element behind Smart 2.0. We have tried the voice interface function with the newly launched Grand SII -- it worked well to unlock the phone. However, almost all smartphones support basic voice recognition technology at the moment, and it remains to be seen how ZTE will differentiate and dramatically improve the accuracy and user experience.
The new initiative on the channel side is to build up a C2C platform called “Weipinhui” (Westore). It is an innovative platform allowing anybody to sell ZTE phones via an APP called “westore”. The idea is to leverage the peer-to-peer influence to deepen and diversify e-commerce channels. It is now available on Android and iOS platform in China. No actual sales volume via this platform have yet been disclosed at the event.