This post was written as part of a blogger trip I organised for the Live Orange Blog. Connect to the blog for the latest on that event!
On February 25th, at ZTE’s press conference at Mobile World Congress, the show was not where you’d think it was. The announcement of ZTE’s new launch of devices (one of which with the brand new Firefox OS) has given way to a real scrum amongst journalists who were fighting for a good space in conference room 1 of the MWC media village. Why so?
Heads; it was a Press Conference
Tails; Journalists fighting for a scoop (already leaked on CNET 3 hours before)
Even though the video demo of the brand new ZTE Grand Memo led to chuckles in the room when the conference room’s sound system refused to reproduce anything more than hisses, the launch of the large screen high end smartphone by the Chinese manufacturer was nothing to laugh at. Indeed, our 2012 live Orange blog readers had already got a hint of the Chinese offensive on the Western front. ZTE and Huawei were indeed very present at MWC last year (remember the horse?). 2012 was the sign that Chinese manufacturers were entering that market and penetrating foreign markets way beyond the borders of China.
Now, today’s announcement was anything but laughable, it was a clear signal that, to put it in the words of He Shiyou EVP and head of mobile devices division, the main objective of the company is to “be a player in high-end devices and even become one of the top 3 players in the World by 2015”. As a matter of fact, Chinese manufacturers benefit from a very large domestic market and now it is time for them to deploy around the world. Once again quoting the ZTE exec, “IDC declared we sell 65 million devices per annum” he said, “we are the fourth device manufacturer in the world and 70% of ZTE’s revenue is made of mobile devices”; the company also expects to grow its revenue y 30% in 2013.
What was new today is the Grand Memo smartphone “4S” (as in slim/screen/speed/safe), a super-sized 5.7 inch screen device packed with features (including full 1080p HD video recording), which also includes Dolby’s sound solution. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as “70% of smartphone users think that sound quality is essential in providing great experience for a phone” the Dolby representative said. The big phone also has designed a special interface so “that dialling is possible even with one hand despite large screen” therefore showing that “one of the key areas is the development of the user interface and easier navigation menus, which have been created and are unique to ZTE”. The launch will take place this year and should “provide the springboard for success” He added.
ZTE also announced a brand new entry-level smartphone based on the Mozilla Foundation’s brand new Firefox operating system, and the phone is named, very logically, “ZTE Open”. Even though there are still some grey areas such as pricing, availability, and – in the case of the ZTE open phone – specific number of applications running, one can sense that the mobile industry is just about to turn a new page. China is no longer the place for producing cheap phones which were originally designed overseas, it’s mostly becoming a centre for innovation and mobile phones are no exception.