ZTE Corp., China’s telecommunications manufacturer and wireless solution provider, is making headway into the North American market with the help of Telus Mobility by introducing the ZTE D90 wireless 3G handset device; the first handset of its kind to be released in North America from a Chinese manufacturer.
ZTE Canada, together with Telus Mobility, announced the immediate availability of the ZTE D90 handset to the Canadian marketplace. This wireless phone is the first of what ZTE promises will be the first of many to be launched in the North American market moving forward. The new handset is available only to Canadian consumers via Telus Mobility carriers for now. ZTE will not be releasing this handset in the United States, but the company assures that other ZTE products will eventually make their way to that space as well.
David Philp, senior director of terminal products at ZTE Canada, said ZTE’s strategy of breaking into the North American market will focus on branding.
“ZTE is a new brand that’s just come into North America,” Philp said. “We earned our stripes in Asia already and now, we want to establish ourselves in North America. This can be considered to be the toughest market to crack when it comes to the cell phone industry because anytime a new player comes to market, it’s hard to compete with the already existing cell phone manufacturers. We offered Telus something unique by offering unique customization.”
By introducing this handset to the Canadian market place, Philp said ZTE is hoping to extend its reach and overall market presence within the North American industry. He also said the company is now in the midst of exploring other market opportunities with several other North American operators as well.
Philp said the design of the D90 was a collaborative effort from both a carrier and manufacturer perspective because ZTE worked closely with Telus Mobility to design and develop a handset that would suit the needs of its Canadian end users.
The outcome of this joint design resulted in ZTE creating the world’s first mobile handset that features Digit Wireless’ Fastap keypad and Zi Corporation’s eZiType software; features that enhance user efficiency, accuracy and overall user experience by utilizing text messaging services.
Philp said the target market for this handset is Canadian youths who rely on text messaging as a way of communicating in every day life.
“Telus wanted to develop a product where text entry and input was done very quickly,” Philp said. “The Fastap text engine helps to provide this feature and the eZiType feature adds value to the text experience. There’s also intelligence in the phone so it completes words and also offers spell correction for text messaging.”
According to Philp, ZTE has been in the handset business for six years now and he says the company is planning on introducing future handsets to North America as a strategic way for the company to build up its brand.
“This handset will be the first of several that will follow in North America to help build our brand,” Philp said. “Our aim is to talk to all of the key operators in North American to find niche opportunities to gain more of a presence in the marketplace. The D90 is a key example of a niche product.”
While there are a variety of features that help set the ZTE D90 apart from other handsets in the industry, Philp draws attention to the joint design of the customized alphanumeric keypad that also includes 26 “hot keys” that immediately link users to certain applications such as the camera feature, messaging aspects and so on, therefore letting the user bypass the traditional menu system found on phones. These keys can also be personalized to help users manage their contacts and other applications. In addition, the ZTE D90 also features a built-in 1.3 mega pixel digital camera, an MP3 player and also features Bluetooth support.
According to Philp, one of the main differentiating features between ZTE and other wireless solution providers is the way in which it designs its products.
“Most manufacturers design and build a phone and they let carriers make selections after they’ve already been made,” Philp said. “We go in with design ideas and we work to build a phone that’s specifically suited to carrier requirements. We involve the operator in our design process and they like this flexibility. This strategy has let us break into the [North American] market.”
To better serve its partners, ZTE also offers channel support including a ZTE sales force that works with partners and consumers, marketing resources, a company Web site and a national hotline phone number for end-user support.
“We want to develop the North American channel,” Philp said. “Starting in 2008, we’re going to start our branding initiative where our goal will be to develop multiple handsets across multiple operators. We also want to build our brand over the next five to 10 years so we can become a significant player in the marketplace.”
Currently, the ZTE D90 is being offered through all of Telus Mobility’s channels including retail, corporate and enterprise and is available at a price point for as low as $79.99 on a three-year contract and at $229.99 without.