Employees at Vivo's European headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany, display the company's various smartphone models. The tech firm has filed over 2,000 patents for 5G innovations by the end of 2020, thanks to an R&D network across nine innovation centers. [Photo/China Daily] Smartphone major Vivo to expand footprint abroad with new devices, tie-ups Vivo Mobile Communication Co Ltd, a Chinese smartphone vendor, is accelerating its international expansion with an aim to double the size of its footprint in Europe to 12 markets this year. Vivo's expansion strategy follows its rise to be the world's fifth-largest smartphone vendor last year. The company has over 380 million users across more than 40 countries, a feat it achieved despite fierce competition spawned by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In online media events in mid-February, Vivo announced it has entered Romanian and Czech markets in Europe. Denny Deng, president of Vivo's Europe business, said the company is delighted to say "Hello" to the Romanian and Czech markets, and introduce its smartphones to local consumers. "We are here in very challenging times for people and businesses worldwide. However, our plans and our commitment to expand our business across Europe have remained unchanged. This follows our company philosophy of doing the right thing, and doing it right," Deng said. Vivo said it will expand into Serbia and Austria in the first half of this year. According to Deng, Vivo started its European foray last October by entering Germany, Poland, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. Vivo has received positive feedback from the market, with both business partners and consumers excited alike. "Ever since our first step in international markets in 2014, we have been committed to bringing new quality experiences to our customers," Deng said. Before its expansion into Europe, Vivo emerged the leading smartphone brand in Indonesia by market share. In China, the company was ranked the fourth-largest smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to market research company International Data Corp. To power its way in new markets, Vivo unveiled new devices, a fully revamped operating system and professional-grade camera technologies. Last year, Vivo partnered Zeiss, a German manufacturer of optical systems and optoelectronics, to jointly promote and develop breakthrough innovations in mobile imaging technology. Under a long-term strategic partnership, Vivo and Zeiss will establish an imaging lab, a joint research and development program to innovate mobile imaging technology for Vivo's flagship smartphones, the two companies said in a statement. Joerg Schmitz, head of Zeiss consumer products, said: "The partnership between Vivo and Zeiss is all about mobile imaging. The breadth of Zeiss' decades-long expertise with optical technologies and imaging will enable Vivo to enhance the imaging performance of its flagship smartphones." The tie-up with Zeiss fits in nicely with Vivo's overall plan to sharpen its technological prowess and strengthen research and development. The company has filed over 2,000 patents for 5G innovations by the end of 2020. These developments were made possible by an R&D network across nine innovation centers and supported by research teams across the globe, reflecting Vivo's dedication to understanding regional consumers and in-depth localization within many markets. Liu Guoliang, senior director of overseas strategic planning center at Vivo, said: "The entry into Europe has significant implications for Vivo. First, Europe is a mature market and a mecca of brands. Our success on that continent will be a testament to our user-oriented innovation and technology. Second, European consumers have more substantial requirements across different categories, such as higher standards for information security. By prospering in the European market, Vivo's capabilities will grow immensely amid manufacturing facilities and corporate settings there." To raise its brand awareness among European consumers, Vivo has become an official partner of the UEFA European Championships for 2020 and 2024, a primary association football competition in Europe. The UEFA is the Union of European Football Associations, the governing body of football in Europe. Vivo's growing emphasis on the European market also came as its Chinese peer Huawei Technologies Co's overseas smartphone business was crippled by the US government restrictions, leaving a window of opportunity for other smartphone brands. Meanwhile, the global smartphone market is ready for a rebound this year, after a 5.9 percent decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to IDC. Nabila Popal, research director with IDC's worldwide mobile device trackers, said, "There are a lot of elements at play that are fueling the smartphone market recovery－pent-up demand, continued supply push on 5G, aggressive promotions, and the popularity of low－to mid-priced phones."