Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 12 News List

HTC plans to launch more mid-range price smartphones

VALUE PRODUCTS With handset distributors becoming more price sensitive, HTC plans to promote more affordable phones in the second half

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER

HTC Corp (宏達電), the world’s largest maker of handsets running on Microsoft Corp’s operating system, said yesterday it would introduce a series of mid-range price smartphones to adapt to challenging economic times and tap into business opportunities in thriving emerging markets.

Without defining the price range in mind, Jack Tong (董俊良), vice president of HTC’s Asia-­Pacific region, said that more affordable products would be available in the second half of this year at the earliest.

The handset maker yesterday launched its second-generation Touch Cruise handset, beating its rival, Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦), in rolling out a location-based navigation services (LBS) global positioning smartphone this year.

HTC Touch Cruise is scheduled to hit the local market by the end of this month and would retail for NT$16,900 (US$488) — a sharp NT$8,000 price drop from its first-generation predecessor introduced in January last year.

Tong said the company was sticking to its forecast of a stable profit margin of 15 percent this quarter, slightly down from the fourth quarter’s 18.3 percent. He acknowledged, however, that major telecom operators had been cutting budgets for cellphone subsidies, sales and marketing.

He said distributor channels and operators had also become more sensitive as to what they purchase.

“They are careful where to put their money and want a clear value proposition from each handset purchase,” Tong said.

Telecom carriers are more interested in increasing revenues from data services and introducing customized applications to attract buyers, he said, adding that carriers wanted smartphones with a defined customer base.

Touch Cruise will be introduced in Hong Kong today before being launched in other markets, such as China, Australia and Thailand, Tong said.

“Since each country has its own location-based technological limitations, Touch Cruise is built to enable services and encourage users to go online to share their digital lives,” he said.

HTC had earlier forecast that revenue in the first quarter would be around NT$33 billion, almost flat compared with revenues of NT$32.7 billion one year earlier.

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