CHINA IS ADVANCING RAPIDLY on all fronts of information technology product development, from smartphones to supercomputers. There are quite a few big players now in various segments, including of course Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE, the latter of which has headquarters in Shenzhen, while its mobile base is located in Shanghai, the consumer 'to be' place of China. And there are also the lesser known but no less impressive Chinese tech companies like Inspur and TCL.
Among these market segments, smartphones and tablets are important due to the end user market brand exposure they give. We had a chance recently to sit down with ZTE's 'Ray' Lv Qianhao, the firm's man in charge of mobile and tablet product strategy to find out about the firm's future plans.
The INQUIRER: Can you give us ZTE's view on Chinese mobile device vendors' evolution from low value high volume OEM products to high end, top value branded approaches? What's the ZTE experience with this?
'Ray' Lv Qianhao: Throughout the years of our accumulated experience in cooperation with operators, ZTE got to know more about real life requirements of operators and consumer. In my opinion, we need to pay more attention to the industry-leading design, user interface as well as overall user experience.
Then, adding the brand advantages, and improving value-added business of high-end handsets is desired. If our products give the consumers a unique feel and clear identity, with greater value-add on both high-end and low-end handsets, we'd consider it a great success.
Regarding high end smartphones, phone-tablets such as the Samsung Note and high end tablets, what is ZTE's product strategy in each of these three markets?
In 2012, ZTE will work considerably on accelerating the transition from the domestic mainstream market, to paying more attention to the United States, Europe and other regions as well as China's domestic high-end market. Our focus on the high-end smartphone arena will provide the carriers and channels opportunity to field ZTE products deep in the high-end market.
At the same time, our new 'star' high end model phone strategy will be combined with global market coordinated development. At the product level, there'll be distinct product planning introduced for personal, family and office types of smartphone and tablet solutions.
What are ZTE's positioning and plan for its own mobile devices? Will there be ARM or MIPS or other processors in the near future, and are other CPU architectures like Atom or some local Chinese CPU architecture under consideration?
On the chip side, ZTE has invested a lot of R&D resources. In network communications, [our] chip supplier number is relatively small, we have our own chip. For phone chips, we create in cooperation with Qualcomm and other vendors. In the future, the ZTE chip strategy is market-oriented, in order to ensure that we have the qualifications and capabilities for unique patentable smart phone features.
What do you think about beyond HD displays in tablets, such as the 2048x1536 new Ipad? Would it make sense to have larger, 11in to 12in super tablets with such resolutions and aspect ratios, since 4:3 or 16:10 are a far more productive format for a screen than 16:9?
Just like the multi-core, ultra high resolution became the trend in high end mobile devices, ultra high resolution improves user experience in image quality, games and so on. Therefore, 2048x1536 or 2560x1600, or even higher resolution will appear in our pads ultimately as well. The degree of portability is an important factor for users to choose a pad. I think 10in to 11in can be accepted by consumers, as pads with sizes larger than 11in are not easy to carry.
About the choice between Android, Windows Phone or IOS, assuming there were no licensing hurdles, which platform would be the first choice for ZTE to use in its phones and tablets? Or could ZTE adopt an OS platform of its own?
Regarding the OS, ZTE has developed products both in the Android and Windows platforms. We have good cooperation with Microsoft and Google. ZTE also developed OS technology with industry chain partners including operators. In the future, we feel consumers are not to be concerned about the OS, but the applications in IOS, Android and Windows. So we hope to integrate a variety of operating systems so that consumers can enjoy a variety of services." µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ