News Column

Buzz is back for fading HTC

June 9, 2014

TAIPEI: Once a star of the intensely competitive smartphone sector, the fortunes of Taiwan's HTC have collapsed in recent years - but there's a glimmer of hope.

The company started out as a contract smartphone maker for major foreign players including Microsoft and only began developing its own brand of handsets in 2006.

It quickly built a loyal following as the first to use Google's Android operating system - now the most popular OS for mobile devices and adopted by global smartphone leader Samsung.

But from stellar performances in 2011, HTC has nosedived as Samsung, Apple and Chinese brands including Lenovo and Huawei surge.

In the first quarter of this year it posted a net loss of Tw$1.88 billion (R660 million) while sales hit a five-year low of Tw$33.1bn.

Now, though, there's a buzz around the brand once more, following the launch of the HTC One M8 handset in March.

"It's a mix of being genuinely functional, but also a real statement device," said Nic Healey of leading tech review site CNET. "It's a real stand-out.".

Reviewers and consumers have praised the M8's high-quality design, with a brushed aluminium case, as well as powerful speakers and a dual-lens camera for special effects on photos.

The look and feel of HTC's on-screen menu system had been called overcomplicated, but the M8 has improved the interface, says Healey.

Respected tech news site the Register described it as the Alfa Romeo of the smartphone world.

HTC would not comment on sales figures for the M8, but says it expects to swing back into profitability in the next quarterly results, doubling its revenues in the three months to June.

There was also a hint at a new collaboration with Microsoft at last week's Computex tech show in Taipei.

"The M8 is selling fast across global markets," Sascha Pallenberg of technology consultancy Mobile Geeks said. "In terms of the build quality and the materials this is the most sophisticated phone on the market."

HTC had taken a leaf out of Apple's book by ensuring the device was immediately available to consumers after its media launch in New York, London and Paris, rather than waiting to bring it to market. - Sapa-AFP

Cape Argus

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Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)

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