At the RBC Canadian Open today, Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE announced a three-year extension of its sponsorship agreement with the annual professional golf tournament.
In the past, ZTE has partnered with various NBA teams for sponsorships, so making the long term jump to golf, particularly in Canada, is not out of the ordinary for the company. ZTE says it currently holds brand partnerships in Canada, the U.S, Germany, Australia, Mexico and other regions.
“We found that most of our consumer base in the United States matches quite well with NBA fans, that’s why we started with NBA teams… Now with the Axon, we are moving from affordable premium, to the premium affordable segment of this market. So we studied and saw that golf fans are a good match,” said Lixin Cheng, the CEO of mobile devices and the chairman of ZTE North America in an interview with MobileSyrup.
Along with the typical branding and logo inclusion expected from a partnership of this nature, ZTE also has a section of Glen Abbey’s welcome area that features hands-on demo stations of the Grand X View, Axon 7 Mini and ZTE’s Connected Car Solution, which Rogers revealed a few weeks ago as Smart Drive.
The Axon 7, ZTE’s last major flagship, was released roughly a year ago, which indicates the Chinese company is likely preparing to release a successor to that flagship device in the near future. In the meantime, the company is turning its attention to connected products like Rogers’ recently launched Smart Drive device.
The ZTE-manufactured Smart Drive dongle plugs directly into a car’s onboard diagnostic port (ODB-II) — a port that’s featured in every car manufactured since 1996 — and gives users access to a LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. This comes at a premium price tag, however, with the device itself costing $200 off contract and $99 on a two-year term. Data cost comes in at $15 per month and Smart Drive is only compatible with Rogers SIM cards.
“Our vision for the future is connected products. We predict that by 2020, there will be around 100 connections around each person. So when we launched our Axon flagship about three years ago, we believed smartphones would be the nerve centre of everything around you. ZTE is investing heavily in this IoT area in terms of device; this is just one of many devices for the connected car and we plan to invest heavily in many other connections around you,” said Cheng.
This year’s RBC Canadian Open takes place at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, from July 24-30th.