ORLANDO—ZTE is the world’s fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer by units shipped according to research firm IDC, and you’re going to be hearing a lot more about them in 2011.The Chinese company will double its North American portfolio from 14 to at least 28 phones this year, said Jeff Ji, general manager of ZTE USA.
That mix may include Android and even Windows Phone 7 devices, Ji said, possibly along with high-speed HSPA+ 42 phones for T-Mobile’s network.
“We are doing Windows Phone 7,” Ji said.
ZTE’s key strategy is to work closely with carriers to provide “quality, performance and design,” Ji said. Right now ZTE doesn’t offer any smartphones in the US; it makes low-end texting and voice phones like the Cricket TXTM8 3G and Verizon’s Salute, as well as USB modems for several different carriers.
In 2011, the company wants to work with at least all of the “top six carriers,” meaning Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, MetroPCS and Cricket, Ji said.
The company has released successful smartphones in Europe, and will be moving to offer smartphones in the US soon, Ji said.
ZTE makes the first HSPA+ 42 device for T-Mobile; it’s a USB modem. Phones could follow in about six months, Ji said.
The company is also working on LTE devices, Ji said. But he doesn’t see consumers clamoring for super-speed Internet phones. The high speeds delivered by HSPA+ 14.4 and HSPA+ 21 devices are “good enough for now,” he said.
Ji said ZTE isn’t worried about the effect an AT&T/T-Mobile merger would have on reducing handset choices in the USA.
“It’s business as usual for us. Both carriers are key customers,” he said.