SHENZHEN (Reuters) - ZTE Corp, China's No.2 network equipment maker, plans to launch LTE (long term evolution) devices in the United States along with smartphones based on Microsoft's Mango operating system to expand its U.S. footprint.
The Shenzhen-based company plans to roll out LTE devices in the United States in the second half of this year and aims to launch its Mango smartphones early next year, ZTE's U.S. CEO Cheng Lixin told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday during a company event.
"Phone carriers in the U.S. have expressed a lot of interest and we've said that we'll support Mango. We'll likely see Mango smartphones early next year," the Texas-based executive said.
Earlier in the day, ZTE executives told Reuters that the company planned to introduce Mango smartphones in Europe in the second half of this year.
Microsoft launched an update of its Windows phone software code-named Mango on Tuesday, hoping a host of new features will help it close the gap on smartphone leaders Google Inc and Apple Inc. [ID:nN24255209]
ZTE and larger Chinese rival Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, traditionally in the network equipment business, have been aggressively trying to capture market share in the fast-growing mobile devices sector by rolling out smartphones and tablet PCs.
ZTE expects to ship more than 80 million handsets this year, up by a third from last year's 60 million units, an executive told Reuters earlier this year. Key markets for ZTE's handphones include China, Europe and the United States.
Shipments of its smartphones, which mainly run Google Inc's Android operating system, would rise to 12 million units from 3 million last year, ZTE said earlier this year.
In the fourth quarter of last year, ZTE became the fourth-largest handset maker by unit shipments globally, ranking behind Nokia, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and LG Electronics Inc, market research group IDC said.
Cheng said the company did not rule out any acquisitions in the mobile devices or cloud computing areas in the United States, though there were no immediate plans.
Cheng's comments came after Hong Kong markets closed. Its Hong Kong-listed shares were down 0.56 percent, lagging the main Hang Seng Index's 0.07 percent rise.
Editing by Jon Loades-Carter