The iPhone 5. The Galaxy S4. The HTC One. The BlackBerry Z10. These are the smartphones that we’ve been reading about obsessively for the past several months and are some of the American smartphone market’s heavyweight fighters. But while these big-name vendors have been rolling out their premier devices, Chinese smartphone vendor ZTE has been quietly flooding the U.S. market with low-cost smartphones that have now made it one of the five biggest smartphone vendors in the United States, Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Shah says.
According to Shah’s latest analysis, ZTE was the fastest growing smartphone vendor in the United States over the past year, with a year-over-year growth rate of 85.7% in the first quarter of 2013. For some perspective, consider that Shah also found Samsung’s annual growth rate checked in at 34.1% despite the fact that it made arguably the biggest splash in the smartphone market last year with the release of both the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy Note line of phablets. Shah says that most of the action from ZTE has come from selling devices on prepaid carriers such as MetroPCS and Cricket, which explains why we haven’t seen much carrier support for ZTE devices from AT&T and Verizon.
Late least year IDC found that ZTE had become the fifth-largest smartphone vendor in the world with a global market share of 4.3%, so it isn’t all that surprising to see ZTE making inroads in the American marketplace. All the same, given the company’s lack of major carrier support and its lack of advertising presence compared with the likes of Apple and Samsung, its rapid growth over the past year has been extremely impressive.