Rookie looks ready to beat peer pressure
In July 2015, when ZTE officially launched its Axon phones for the high-end market, Adam Zeng Xuezhong told a press conference that he would personally donate 1 yuan (15 US cents) to a charity fund for army veterans each time an Axon handset is sold, whether at home or overseas.
It has been more than five months since the product launch, during which two siblings of the flagship model, Axon Max and Axon Mini, have also hit the shelves. However, Zeng has yet to release the official sales data of the Axon series.
ZTE’s mobile devices division chief, however, promised the results will be eventually revealed when the next generation of Axon phones is launched, which will also be the time when the amount of money contributed to the veterans’ fund is announced to the public.
Zeng also said that the Axon mini, the smallest version in the series, is the world’s first smartphone to deliver a pressure-sensitive touch screen, and ZTE introduced this even ahead of Apple Inc, which adopted the technology for its latest generation of iPhones.
“I said earlier that sales of Axon will be counted in the millions, and they have been growing in tune with my expectations since the brand launched in July,” Zeng told China Daily, adding that the Chinese mainland accounted for about half of the Axon handsets sold globally, while the rest were sold in overseas markets.
Further growth in the Chinese market is now crucial for ZTE’s smartphone division in 2016 as sales revenue remains a burden, Zeng admitted.
Joining ZTE right after graduating from Tsinghua University in 1996, Zeng served as a chief representative in the company’s Guiyang branch, before taking over as ZTE’s China chief executive to oversee the company’s operations from carrier solutions to mobile devices between 2006 and 2013.
But the company has been patient enough, waiting to develop a quality product like Axon before hitting the smartphone market. And after testing the waters for the past few months, Zeng believes this is the right moment to forecast that smartphone sales will at least double in the home market this year.
According to latest data, ZTE shipped 26 million smartphones worldwide in the first half of 2015, not counting Axon handsets as they were yet to be launched then.
But the fast expansion of smartphone consumption in China appears to have already peaked last year, with US-based research firm Gartner indicating that sales in China fell 4 percent during the second quarter of 2015 — the first drop in the market in six years.
ZTE is also facing tremendous pressure from peers like Huawei and Xiaomi, which have been launching both high-end and affordable smartphone models at a regular clip as the race hots up to offer higher function and features at ever-lower price tags.
ZTE’s success story in overseas markets will help further lift its mobile device sales abroad, Zeng believes. The Chinese brand is currently the fourth-largest smartphone vendor in the US market by shipment, behind global leaders Apple and Samsung, and within striking distance of LG Electronics.
The company has marked down 20 countries as key markets for its global smartphone sales worldwide, Zeng said, but did not elaborate. “If ZTE can succeed in these 20 countries, then it is an overall success for ZTE,” he said.
I said earlier that sales of Axon will be counted in the millions, and they have been growing in tune with my expectations since the brand launched in July (2015). ”
ZTE Corp has been patient in first developing a quality product like Axon before hitting the smartphone market, and mobile devices chief Adam Zeng Xuezhong believes this is the right moment to forecast that smartphone sales will at least double in the home market this year.