Kit maker in talks with Southeast Asian telco over developing localised products, services.
Chinese telecommunications hardware and mobile device maker ZTE Corp. may launch tablet computers running on fourth-generation network technology in some Asia-Pacific countries next year if market conditions become conducive, a company executive said.
"In terms of 4G tablets, the technology is already there. We're just waiting for the markets" to pick up, ZTE's president of the Asia-Pacific region, Zheng Bang, told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview on the sidelines of the CommunicAsia show.
He said the company is waiting to see if demand for 4G tablets will materialize.
"At the moment, I don't see a lot of subscribers...there aren't economies of scale in 4G networks as yet," Zheng said.
Nonetheless, ZTE might roll out 4G tablets first in Hong Kong, the executive said, where some 4G network services have been available since late 2010, ahead of other countries such as Singapore and Australia. These devices could incorporate Google Inc.'s Android operating system, but ZTE is open to using other platforms, said the executive.
Last month, regional rival Samsung Electronics Co., the world's second-largest cellphone maker by revenue, said it planned to launch later this year a new 4G tablet that uses Android.
ZTE is a relatively late entrant into the tablet business, having started selling its Android-based devices only in the fourth quarter of last year. But Zheng said this gives the company a "latecomer advantage" as ZTE can offer more advanced technology compared with some more established competitors.
Such high-end offerings, including smartphones and Long-Term Evolution services, will be crucial for ZTE's bid to sustain growth in the Asia-Pacific region, where it hopes for a 30%-40% compound annual growth rate over the next five years.
"Growth momentum (in Asia-Pacific) is stronger this year compared to last year" as buyers become more receptive of high-end devices, especially in key markets including Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and the Philippines, Zheng said, without elaborating on sales figures and targets.
In April, the company had said it aimed to ship 80 million mobile phones this year, up from 60 million in 2010, and sell 3 million tablets and 12 million "smart terminals," referring to smartphones and other mobile computing devices.