Particularly, ZTE has partnered with Bharti Airtel to build 4G LTE networks to roll out 4G services; and it has also recently won a contract from another Indian telco, Reliance Communications, for optical transport network.
Innovation is key to success
"At ZTE, we strongly believe that innovation is the key to gaining success," said Zhang, adding that there are three pillars of innovation that the company abides by.
"Firstly, we want to build a close relationship with our customers and users so that we can better solve their challenges and ultimately win their business and support in the long run. Secondly, we are always looking at hiring more talented people, globally; and we have also pumped in more money for research and development to foster better innovation. Finally, we seek to get more partners and create a better ecosystem in order to achieve innovation," explained Zhang.
When asked if ZTE's low-pricing strategy for their handsets is due to the lack of innovation as compared to big brands like Samsung or Apple, Zhang said that in contrast, half of the mobile patent handsets in China come from ZTE, signalling the company's strong stand towards innovation.
"There used to be this general perception - and it probably still exists now - that Chinese 'innovation' is all about imitation and that we are not as innovative as companies in Silicon Valley. That might hold true maybe 10 or 20 years ago, but I can safely say that Chinese companies are no longer blind followers, but innovators in their own right," said Zhang.
Delving deeper in this innovation business strategy, An said that ZTE has partnered with mobile operator Telkom Indonesia to jointly establish a research centre focused on next-generation IPTV and OTT video technologies in Indonesia. He added that the centre also seeks to build partnerships with other IP-based video technology providers and develop new Internet video services; and for Telkom, the tie-up will be a chance to expand the range of video services it offers to its customers, including to subscribers of its IndiHome broadband service.
Going beyond just Asia
Zhang said that in plans to expand overseas, "innovation is essential. It is no exaggeration to say that no innovation, no overseas market".
To broaden the market abroad, ZTE considers developing countries as its main market target, and Pakistan is the first localisation market after it occupied domestic market position.
"In Pakistan, the situation is just incredible. There are security issues, temperature issues (it often exceeds 40 degrees Celcius) and there are often natural disaster situations like floods occurring in the country," said Zhang.
Despite such adverse conditions, Zhang said that ZTE is bent on breaking into the Middle East as he believes that there is a strong potential for business within the country. Specifically, he believes that the company is able to help enhance the communication among the people and empower the country to solve their communication challenges.
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