In spite of Nokia still reeling from its direct sales-induced hangover, ZTE is pursuing this very sales model with hopes of bolstering its brand recognition -- and it's going to start with the tea and crumpets crowd of England. Following a recently-inked deal, unlocked ZTE handsets will be sold to British consumers through Brightpoint's online and retail distribution channels. While far from mainstream (despite 60 million units sold in 2010), the Chinese manufacturer is looking to escape its private-label shackles and "become a household name synonymous with high quality smartphones and tablets." Of course, the company must contend with a trending consumer preference for carrier-subsidized handsets, blamed by the bigwigs in Espoo as the reason for Nokia's direct-to-consumer pains. Still, if the Shenzhen-based company finds any luck, Londoners will soon discover scores of Amigos, Blades and Skates popping up on the Tube. Hungry for more details? Just follow the link after the break for the full PR.
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Brightpoint to deliver ZTE-branded smartphones and devices throughout UK

A deal between ZTE and high-end device distributor Brightpoint will soon see ZTE own-branded smartphones and tablets available to UK consumers

14 July 2011, Shenzhen – ZTE Corporation ("ZTE") (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, has signed an agreement with Brightpoint European Regional Services, S.L., a subsidiary of Brightpoint, Inc. (Nasdaq: CELL) ("Brightpoint"), a global leader in providing supply chain solutions to the wireless industry. The agreement with Brightpoint marks an important milestone for ZTE in increasing the company's penetration of the UK market by providing ZTE's high quality, feature-rich smartphones and devices to Brightpoint's online and retail channels.

ZTE's strategy for growth so far has proven hugely successful, partnering with some of the leading services providers in Europe. The Brightpoint agreement will see ZTE step out of the white-labeling business and into the booming brand-conscious smartphone arena. ZTE continues to challenge the established leaders in the world handset market and expects to ship more than 80 million handsets this year, up from 60 million units in 2010.

"The success of the ZTE Blade, and the overwhelmingly positive reception at this year's Mobile World Congress of the forthcoming Skate device, demonstrate that ZTE is set to become a key player in the smartphone sector," said Wu Sa, director of mobile device operations, ZTE UK. "We chose to work with Brightpoint since its strategy dovetails with ours. ZTE made a commitment at the start of 2011 to alter its strategy from being a feature phone-centric supplier to producing much higher-end smartphones and delivering an enhanced user experience to the mass market.We are working closely with Brightpoint to launch smartphones into the UK market this year. We expect ZTE to become a household name synonymous with high quality smartphones and tablets."

"The European smartphone market is at its hottest right now, and it will stay hot for several years to come," says John Delaney, research director for Consumer Mobile with industry analysts IDC. "Between the start of 2011 and the end of 2015, we expect over 725 million smartphones to be purchased in Europe. The focus in smartphones tends to be concentrated on the software platform but some of the Asian vendors are reminding us that the hardware brand, too, can still be a powerful driver for success in the smartphone market."

"We are delighted to be working with ZTE in the UK," said James Bannister, Brightpoint's vice president, United Kingdom and Ireland

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ZTE emerges from carrier shadows with direct sales strategy in UK