Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - Page 13 News List

HTC counting on M8 smartphone to expand market

CHALLENGES:The latest iteration of the HTC One looks ‘impressive,’ but the company needs effective marketing to spread its appeal, an analyst said

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter, with Bloomberg and CNA

HTC Corp (宏達電) yesterday released a new version of its flagship HTC One smartphone — its latest bid to reclaim a larger share of the global mobile phone market and return to profit.

The HTC One M8 runs Google Inc’s Android 4.4 mobile operating system and supports 4G long-term evolution (LTE) technology.

The new device is equipped with a unibody metal casing and features a 5-inch display, Qualcomm Inc’s newest Snapdragon 801 2.5-gigahertz quad-core processor and dual rear cameras that can capture 3D pictures, HTC said.

“The new HTC One is certainly an impressive device. The design is stunning,” Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said at the HTC launch event on Tuesday in New York.

“It should sell well to early adopters who are looking for premium design, but HTC will need effective marketing to break through to mainstream consumers who are starting, and usually ending, their buying process with Apple [Inc] or Samsung [Electronics Co],” he added.

Last year, HTC’s revenue declined 29.62 percent from 2012. It also slid into the red, posting a net loss of NT$1.33 billion (US$435 million) from a profit of NT$16.78 billion in 2012.

CEO Peter Chou (周永明) told reporters in New York that gaining market share is “a critical issue” to HTC, with the company shifting to focus its resources in key markets, especially the US, Europe and China.

He added that the company has set a goal of gaining a global market share of 8 to 10 percent over the long term.

HTC had a market share of less than 5 percent of the global smartphone market last year, far behind Samsung’s 31 percent and Apple’s 16 percent, market researcher Gartner Inc said.

HTC shares closed up 1.64 percent at NT$155 in Taipei trading yesterday, outpacing the TAIEX, which edged up 0.55 percent.

Yuanta Securities Corp (元大證券) analyst Dennis Chan (詹宗勳) yesterday said he remained downbeat on HTC and does not believe the company’s new product would be a game-changer.

“As most spec upgrades have been anticipated by the market, we believe the phone lacks the ‘wow’ factor, and we are skeptical that the new model’s [sales] momentum will be sustainable,” said Chan, who rates HTC shares a “sell,” said in a research note to client.

HTC plans to partner with more than 230 telecom operators globally to sell its new flagship model this year. It started taking pre-orders yesterday in the US through major carriers such as AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Sprint Corp, with the phone costing US$199.99 for a two-year contract.

The company is to start selling the M8 in Taiwan tomorrow, with the retail price for a 16-gigabyte model set at NT$21,900.

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