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ZTE decides to shrink smartphone range, use voice control features to boost brand

Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE is rethinking its strategy for 2015 and beyond. According to Zeng Xuezhong, CEO of ZTE’s mobile devices division, who spoke to the China Daily recently, the company will focus on “two or three core devices and shed some of the products which have proved less competitive in the market.”

Apparently, the reason for the downsizing of its extensive portfolio of hardware is it hasn’t helped the company increase its brand or place in the market. In the report, Zeng states ZTE and other Chinese mobile companies should “focus on boosting brand value by paying attention to core and competitive products.”

Last week, we were given our first look at the new direction ZTE’s taking when it launched the ZTE Star 2. The 5-inch, Snapdragon 801-powered phone incorporates an expansive voice control feature, which can even be used offline or when the phone is locked. ZTE intends to use voice control features to differentiate its range of new phones, which it hopes will make it a strong contender in the high-end smartphone market.

According to Gartner’s most recent smartphone market share data, ZTE isn’t one of the top five manufacturers in the world, but the firm will probably be more concerned over the rise of Xiaomi, which has leapt into fourth position ahead of Lenovo, LG, Sony, and other big names. ZTE hopes features like voice control will help it combat the “cool” Xiaomi brand, and boost its domestic market share. Zeng forecasts ZTE will sell 60 million phones during the next year.

ZTE has recently said it has big plans for the U.S. market, saying it wants to pass competitors such as LG to take the number three spot in the market. So far, it hasn’t confirmed whether the Star 2 will launch outside China, or how a range reduction will affect its international expansion plans. We should learn more at CES in January.