Shenzhen-based ZTE seeks boost from smart wearable items
"Smart" wearable devices, including watches, glasses, shoes and socks, are the future, according to ZTE, the Shenzhen-based telecom equipment supplier and smartphone maker.
Lv Qianhao, head of handset marketing, said the company aimed to showcase its power to innovate with the launches.
ZTE's smartwatch would be launched on the mainland in the second quarter of next year and in the US and Europe later, while the timing for the rest of the devices depended on market conditions, Lv said.
The watch would only be compatible with its own smartphones. Prices would be "affordable", he said.
ZTE has been studying smart televisions, glasses, shoes and socks, which are all sensor-filled devices connected to smartphones that track activity, stride, speed, distance and calories.
"We have been looking at wearable devices since 2006. Instead of producing cheap versions of big-brand products, we can show we can innovate and move up the value chain," Lv said. "I believe smart wearable devices will be a big thing in the future as mobile internet becomes essential to more and more people and available at quicker speed."
The wearable devices come at a time when the company's smartphone market share on the mainland is slipping. According to market research firm Canalys, ZTE is now the seventh-largest smartphone vendor by shipment volume in China, with its market share down to 5 per cent from 10 per cent last year.
Suo Zhiguo, an iResearch analyst, said wearable technology was forecast to follow a similar path as tablet computers and smartphones, with more affordable models leading to a crowding in the market.
"At least several Chinese companies are trying to jump on the bandwagon, and that's not necessarily a good thing for consumers as many of them are things you wear on your body, so safety is important," he said.
Beijing is expected to give the green light soon to the commercial rollout of advanced, high-speed 4G mobile infrastructure, beginning with the TD-LTE (time-division long-term evolution) standard, built on a mainland-developed system.
Lv said ZTE was likely to see the strongest growth next year in its mainland equipment business.
ZTE posted a 112 per cent jump in net profit to 241.6 million yuan in the third quarter of this year, while revenue fell 5.6 per cent to 17.1 billion yuan.