HTC confirms changes to senior team

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Jun 06, 2013 - Page 13

Smartphone vendor HTC Corp (宏達電) yesterday confirmed that chief operating officer (COO) Matthew Costello has stepped down from his position, adding that he would continue to serve as an executive advisor to the company.

Costello’s change of position took place following a number of high-profile resignations from the company over the past month.

The Taoyuan-based company said president of engineering and operations Fred Liu (劉慶東) had been assigned to take over Costello’s former duties.

“To achieve success, the company has had to make changes when it was right for the business. Recently has been one of those times,” HTC said in an e-mailed statement.

The company said it has taken more control over its core business, narrowed its focus and launched the new HTC One smartphone as it seeks to reinvigorate its prospects.

The smartphone vendor added: “Efforts to streamline our business have resulted in reorganizations and executive departures, but initial sales of the HTC One have validated the company’s approach.”

In less than two weeks, HTC has seen three senior executives leave the company, including Costello, chief product officer Kouji Kodera and vice president of global communications Jason Gordon.

The company declined to offer explanations for employees’ decisions to leave their roles at HTC, adding that the firm is still on the right track and is enjoying steady sales growth from its new flagship smartphone.

“Response to our flagship device has been strong and demand has exceeded our expectations,” HTC said.

“We are confident that the business steps we have taken and continue to take are the right ones to lead to a strong resurgence of the HTC brand,” it added.

HTC chief marketing officer Ben Ho (何永生) yesterday took the stage at a Computex forum in Taipei and laid out HTC’s vision for development of its latest products.

As the company seeks to develop products that can optimize the user experience, HTC has learned that consumers desire better quality devices, and are not only attracted to lighter “plastic” smartphones, a reference to Samsung Electronics Co’s Galaxy smartphone series, Ho said.

Ho suggested that forum participants should not “leave Taiwan without an HTC [smartphone].”

Also joining yesterday’s forum, TSMC chairman and chief executive officer Morris Chang (張忠謀) said HTC is a company still capable of making cutting-edge electronic products.

However, competition in the mobile device market remains fierce and HTC is competing with the market’s leading brands, Chang said.

This means there are tough battles ahead for HTC, he added.

The increasing popularity of smartphones has boosted sales of both US-based Apple Inc and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co as well as those of emerging Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies (華為) and ZTE Corp (中興), with HTC gradually falling behind in recent years, according to market researcher International Data Corp (IDC).

The latest statistics released by IDC yesterday showed global smartphone shipments are expected to grow 32.7 percent this year to 958.8 million units from 722.5 million units last year.

IDC said this year will mark the first year that smartphone shipments would surpass those of feature phones, with smartphones expected to account for 52.2 percent of worldwide mobile phone shipments.

Additional reporting by Lisa Wang