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China's Mobile Economy by Xiaodong Lee, Dominic Barton, Winston Ma

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Chapter 9 Going Overseas: A Bumpy Road

Few had expected the Golden State Warriors basketball team to reach the US National Basketball Association's (NBA) 2014–2015 season title with a rookie head coach and a roster filled with young talent that had little playoff experience. It was a huge achievement for the franchise that had not won a championship for 40 years. However, the even bigger winner of the NBA Finals was a Chinese smartphone manufacturer that sponsored the team, whose brand name became increasingly well known in the US thanks to marketing campaigns like the one with the Golden State Warriors.

No, that Chinese smartphone brand was not the widely talked about young smartphone start-up Xiaomi. Nor was it Lenovo, the PC giant that once acquired the IBM PC division and more recently the Motorola mobile phone division in the US. Furthermore, it was not the aggressively expanding Huawei that did better than any other Chinese player in terms of moving into high-priced models. The Chinese company was ZTE or Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corp.

Although ZTE was a major supplier of telecom gear used by carriers around the world, its name was still unknown to many people outside of China. In recent years, Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei were in a neck-and-neck race in the domestic smartphone market, and globally they were also competing for the world's third largest smartphone vendor position behind Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. But in the US market, ZTE was ahead of ...

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