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ZTE explains why it didn't want to put its name on the Axon

Wondering why ZTE didn't initially market the Axon smartphone as a ZTE product? The company's CEO of Mobile Devices Adam Zeng explains why.
By
July 21, 2015
ZTE AXON Phone Hands On-27

If you haven’t heard of Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE, you’re probably not alone. Although it’s currently the fourth-largest smartphone maker in the United States by shipments, the company is still struggling to increase its brand awareness because it’s solely focused on budget-friendly handsets for some time. But with the recent launch of the high-end Axon smartphone, ZTE set out to try to fix that problem.

[related_videos title=”ZTE Axon hands-on” align=”left” type=”custom” videos=”625832,625608,625499″]The Axon, which was just recently unveiled at an event in New York City, ticks just about every box on the specification sheet that it possibly can. It has an aluminum chassis, a 5.5-inch Quad HD display, Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, a dual rear-facing camera, and some impressive Hi-Fi audio features. With the launch of the Axon, one of the most high-end smartphones the company has ever produced, one would think ZTE would want to display its name all over the device. However, we learned some time ago that this isn’t the case.

If customers know it is a Chinese brand, they might assume it’s a cheap phone.
Before the phone was announced, the Axon was a mysterious beast. The device’s website made some bold claims, though initially, we weren’t sure which manufacturer was behind the handset. Lo and behold the OEM behind this smartphone turned out to be ZTE, but why wouldn’t the company want to market it as a ZTE product? According to ZTE’s CEO of Mobile Devices Adam Zeng, it’s because ZTE was trying to change the United States’ perception of Chinese smartphone makers. “We didn’t connect it with ZTE at first,” Zeng said. “If customers know it is a Chinese brand, they might assume it’s a cheap phone.”

Mr. Zeng went on to say that ZTE will double its marketing spending each year for the next three years as it tries to reach the top-three handset vendor spot in the United States by 2018. The company’s marketing budget as a whole (not just for mobile) for 2015 is more than one billion yuan ($161 million). Zeng also says the company will still refrain from purchasing traditional advertising, but will continue to sponsor NBA teams like it has in the past.

Have you ever wanted to stay away from a smartphone because of its Chinese OEM origins? If so, do you think ZTE went about this product launch in the right way? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!