Contributed by Daniel Gleeson, Research Analyst of Mobile Media with IHS Screen Digest
Chinese OEMS made a strong showing this year at MWC with various products designed to conquer the entire spectrum of the wireless market. Huawei and ZTE, for example, were among four manufacturers to announce quad-core powered smartphones at the show. The Ascend D Quad smartphone is right at the top end of Android devices and shows a firm effort to move consumer perception of the brand away from the low-end. Underscoring Huawei's determination was the in-house design of the processor for their Ascend D Quad, claiming their design "provides a longer battery life of up to 30 percent compared to industry average". All other announced quad core smartphones utilize Nvidia's Tegra3. Outside of these two Chinese companies, only LG and HTC also announced quad core smartphones. ZTE and Huawei are now at a top table of devices that for now excludes Apple, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, RIM, Alcatel/TCL and Nokia.
ZTE announced no less than nine smartphones and six tablets across a broad range of price points, almost all of which run various versions of Android. Like Huawei, ZTE is now targeting premium devices alongside low cost smartphones, with its flagship Android device, the Era, which boasts a quad-core processor. Alongside their flagship product, ZTE also announced a Windows Phone model, the Orbit, and two LTE smartphones, a standard that is increasingly becoming a requirement to be sold and supported by US carriers. Verizon has stated that it will only be launching smartphones with LTE support from the start of 2012 on.
However, the most important development by far was the noticeable shift from both manufacturers towards their own brands. Huawei announced that Vodafone will be launching Huawei-branded handsets in over ten countries in April. Meanwhile, ZTE unveiled the Mifavor user interface for its Android phones, further emphasising this change in strategy towards more strongly branded products.
There are hurdles to overcome for both companies, from lack of brand recognition outside of China to political obstacles in the US market. Nonetheless, IHS Screen Digest forecasts that both ZTE and Huawei will make considerable inroads in the global handset market over the next few years, growing their shipments from 78m and 50m in 2011 to 111m and 104m in 2016 respectively.
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