Sat, Aug 10, 2013 - Page 13 News List

HTC pursues middle-range smartphones sales

CHEAP ALTERNATIVE:As demand for high-end phones falls, makers are scrambling to release smaller, more affordable devices of flagship models like HTC’s One Mini

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan’s biggest smartphone maker HTC Corp (宏達電) yesterday launched a small and cheap version of its flagship One device in a move to expand its foothold in the fast-growing mid-range smartphone market.

The launch made it the latest in a slew of handset makers’ sales of cheap alternatives to their flagship models as demand for high-end phones is sliding.

On July 15, Samsung Electronics Co, the world’s biggest handset maker, unveiled the Galaxy S4 Mini, the smaller sibling of its well-known Galaxy S4, while Apple Inc is expected to release the budget version of its iPhone, the iPhone Mini, later this quarter.

“HTC has to follow the trend,” Jack Tong (董俊良), president of the company’s North Asia-Pacific region, told a media briefing, following the launch of the One Mini.

“Demand is shifting to mid-tier smartphones,” Tong said. He said this is a trend resulting from telecom operators’ promotion of such phones and tight budgets for certain consumers.

Tong forecast mid-range smartphones would make up a bigger share of HTC’s shipments in Taiwan, compared with last year. He did not provide detailed figures for comparison. While, the share of high-end phones is expected to fall from current 70 percent.

The One Mini is equipped with a smaller 4.3-inch screen and a less advanced dual-core processor, compared with the One’s 4.7-inch display and quad-core processor.

Before the One Mini, the Taoyuan-based HTC had introduced two mid-end models, Desire 500 and Desire 600. The company has no plan to introduce low-end models, with prices below NT$5,000.

The One Mini will also be marketed in other countries, starting next month, and the Desire 500 will be launched in Europe later this month following its release in Taiwan last month.

“We hope to keep overall [unit] sales unchanged and to secure our [top] market position [in Taiwan],” Tong said.

The One Mini is priced at NT$15,900, falling on the upper limit of the price range from NT$13,000 to NT$16,000 for mid-end smartphones as HTC defines them. The price is higher than for the Galaxy S4 Mini, which is priced at NT$14,900. HTC shares rallied 6 percent to NT$159 yesterday, hitting the highest level in a week. The TAIEX edged lower by 0.65 percent.

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