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ZTE becomes latest to cuff self to smartwatch bandwagon

Chinese manufacturer promises cheap, low-end electro-manacle in early 2014

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Chinese phone maker ZTE has become the latest vendor to cuff itself to the smartwatch bandwagon after announcing plans to launch a device in the second quarter of 2014.

The Shenzhen firm’s head of handset marketing, Lu Qianhao, told the Wall Street Journal that ZTE would be “focusing on the mainstream market” with a device comparable in features but at a lower price point than current offerings from the likes of Samsung.

The wrist-slab, set to be unveiled in Q1, will apparently go on sale in China first the following quarter before hitting the US, Europe and other markets.

Lu told the paper the device would be designed only to work with ZTE handsets although he didn’t rule out new models going forward which could work with any Android phones.

Other wearable technology offerings including smart glasses and “smartphone-connected shoes” were also a possibility, he said.

It’s no surprise that ZTE has designs in this emerging market.

While the jury’s very much out on whether there’s a big enough customer demand at the moment, every ambitious smartphone player is investing R&D in wearable tech so it’s not left behind by what could be the next big thing.

However, at present the forecasts are very much underwhelming.

Although Samsung has claimed sales of 800,000 Galaxy Gear watches since the big launch in September, other estimates put it at more like 50,000 units.

Analyst Gartner, meanwhile, has claimed that a lack of apps, low consumer awareness, unstylish devices and a premium price tag of $200-300 will lead to “lacklustre” sales this festive period.

Back in January, analysts told The Reg they don't think smartwatches will be a thing. ®

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