Sat, Apr 03, 2010 - Page 12 News List

HTC launches cheap smartphone

LOW-COST SYSTEMThe HTC Smart runs on Brew, a platform developed by Qualcomm, which is meant to give low-powered smartphones a better interface

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

HTC Corp (宏達電), the leading maker of smartphones running on the Windows Mobile and Google’s Android operating systems, yesterday launched its cheapest model ever in a bid to reach more consumers as it pursues a strategy of volume growth this year.

Retailing at NT$7,900 (US$240), the HTC Smart is also the company’s first smartphone that runs on Qualcomm Inc’s Brew development platform.

The HTC Smart was launched in India this week, and Taiwan is the second market to follow suit.

Several European telecoms operators have announced plans to introduce the Smart later this month.

“We expect to sell 1 million Smart phones within three to four months [on a global scale],” HTC chief executive officer (CEO) Peter Chou (周永明) told reporters at a product launch yesterday.

The phone will be available in China before next month, he said.

HTC said in January that the company would focus on brand awareness this year.

As part of this strategy, profit margins could fall slightly as the company launches models with lower price tags to attract more consumers.

Smartphones generally retail for more than NT$10,000.

HTC Smart is running on Brew, a platform that the US-based handset chipmaker Qualcomm started to develop in 2000. Qualcomm says that “hundreds of millions” of phones have used Brew applications in the past, but HTC Smart is the first phone to use the Brew operating system.

Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm, declined to comment on how many smartphones are expected to use on Brew this year.

He said the company has paid more than US$3 billion for developers to work on Brew, and played down competition from other operating system makers by saying that every platform targets a different consumer segment.

“For those who can’t afford the expensive smartphones, such as students, Brew could be an option to let them own the phones affordably,” Jacobs said.

Competing with Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, Qualcomm’s Brew is a newcomer to the market, specifically targeted at low-cost smartphone users and intended to give low-powered smartphones a full-featured, customizable experience.

HTC yesterday held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Taipei headquarters in Sindian, Taipei County.

The building is scheduled for completion by the end of next year, with a total floor space of 25,900 ping (85,600m²) and the ability to accommodate up to 2,200 employees.

It will have 17 floors above ground and five parking floors underground. A total of 11 floors will be taken up by research and development teams and one floor reserved for rest and relaxation with a cafeteria, gym and spaces for staff to relax.

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