Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - Page 13 News List

HTC looks to the cloud as rivals wage price war

FIERCE FEEDBACK:Disappointed shareholders railed against the firm’s share price slide and what they called chief executive Peter Chou’s ‘mismanagement’

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

From left, HTC chairwoman Cher Wang and chief executive Peter Chou confer with an unidentified man at HTC’s shareholders’ meeting in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Wang Yi-hung, Taipei Times

HTC Corp (宏達電) yesterday said it plans to launch cloud-based software in the near future in a bid to further diversify its product mix, as more smartphone brands such as Apple Inc and Xiaomi Corp (小米) now focus on not only hardware design, but also online services.

While the company did not provide details regarding its latest strategies, the software products are set to debut in the second half of the year at the earliest, chief executive Peter Chou (周永明) said at HTC’s annual general meeting.

Chou told shareholders that HTC intends to develop software supported by cloud computing technologies to create an ecosystem that can deliver value to customers.

“HTC is reacting to every drastic movement happening in the market, and we are certain that the brand’s position will be secured and that our efforts will soon pay off in the following two or three quarters,” Chou said.

HTC made losses of NT$1.32 billion (US$44.14 million) last year, its first annual loss in the company’s 17-year history.

HTC has since adjusted its business strategies, such as increasing product lineups to include more mid-end or entry-level phones for emerging markets and outsourcing to original design manufacturers, the company said.

Chou said HTC’s product mix adjustments are necessary because rivals like Xiaomi and Huawei Technologies Co (華為) have launched intense, market-wide pricing wars.

The firm’s move to develop software is also crucial to help it stand out and catch market trends, he added.

However, a shareholder surnamed Liu asked that HTC chairwoman Cher Wang (王雪紅) fire Chou for what Liu characterized as “mismanagement,” and suggested that Wang let HTC be acquired by iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海) if the company’s executives cannot be replaced with younger people.

In response, Wang cited Chou’s skills in hardware and software design as reasons for her support of the chief executive, adding that she “bagged him to run the company” because he is the only appropriate candidate for the role.

Activist shareholder Lee Chin-tu (李金土), also known as “Uncle A-tu” (阿土伯), said he lost more than NT$1 million from investing in HTC, citing “the share price dropped a bit too much” from NT$1,300 in 2011.

HTC shares ended unchanged at NT$133 yesterday in Taipei trading.

Wang, who is HTC’s biggest shareholder, said she maintains faith in the firm and called on all shareholders to stay optimistic toward the brand because “share price is ephemeral.”

“If HTC were a foreign company, it would have disappeared. However, because it is a Taiwanese brand, HTC will keep moving forward to bring about more innovation,” Wang said.

Wang said she is to have more discussions with company management about potentially repurchasing some of HTC’s Treasury stock from shareholders.

HTC will not distribute dividends to shareholders this year because the company did not yield profits last year, when it offered a NT$2 cash dividend per share.

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