Wed, May 17, 2017 - Page 12 News List

HTC pins hopes on new handset

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

HTC U11 smartphones are displayed at the launch of the squeezable handsets in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Taiwanese smartphone vendor HTC Corp (宏達電) yesterday unveiled the HTC U11, a new flagship handset, at the company’s headquarters in Taipei, with the firm hoping the model sparks a turnaround in its loss-making smartphone business.

The introduction of the high-end product is timed to mark HTC’s 20th anniversary, HTC said.

“We chose to launch the U11 today as it represents the beginning of another 20 years of HTC,” HTC president of smartphone and connected devices business Chang Chia-lin (張嘉臨) told a global news conference.

The 5.5-inch U11 is powered by Qualcomm Inc’s latest Snapdragon 835 processor. It features a curved all-glass body. The edges of the device are touch-sensitive, allowing users to squeeze them to take photographs or open applications.

In addition to the voice-controlled Google Assistant, the U11 is to offer access to Amazon.com Inc’s Alexa in the US, UK and German markets from July, the company said.

The handset would also support Baidu Inc’s (百度) Baidu DuerOS from next month, Chang said.

The company started to manufacture the U11 on Monday and the product is to be available in its home market and Hong Kong from next week, Chang said, adding that it would hit the European, US and Chinese markets at the end of this month and the beginning of next month.

HTC hopes that the handset will help improve its smartphone business this quarter, Chang told investors during a teleconference on Monday last week.

Founded in 1997, the company in 2007 launched its first-ever smartphone, the HTC Touch. Its handset business reached a peak in 2011 and its stock price hit its historic high of NT$1,300 in April of that year.

HTC swung into the red in the second quarter of 2015 due to intensified competition and a slowdown in the smartphone industry. It has posted losses for the past eight consecutive quarters.

The company’s net loss totaled NT$2 billion (US$66.41 million) last quarter, or NT$2.47 per share.

The company is to centralize its resources by introducing only five or six high-end smartphones this year and phasing out its low-priced models, Chang said.

The U11 is the company’s third high-end product this year, meaning that the company intends to launch two or three more models before the end of the year.

In an effort to promote its latest offering, HTC for the first time invited more than 300 domestic and foreign journalists and bloggers to visit its plant in Taoyuan on Monday.

HTC showed the production line of the U11, including surface mount technology (SMT), assembly, testing and packaging.

The SMT and testing processes are completely automated, but the assembly is still done by people, HTC said.

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