These are difficult times for Taiwan’s HTC. Just over two years ago, it supplied one in every 10 smartphones sold around the world. Nowadays, it is battling rivals such as Apple and Samsung to stay relevant in the superhot smartphone market. It is fighting back with a new line of cheaper handsets, including its new flagship smartphone, called the HTC One M8. “We have been through a difficult period over the last few years,” says Chia-Lin Chang, president of global sales and CFO at HTC. “Very soon we will again return HTC to a competitive position in the market,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction. Excerpts:
HTC’s global market share has fallen drastically in recent years. Apple, Samsung and other handset makers have soared over your offerings. What went wrong, why did you lag behind?
HTC makes the world’s best smartphones by delighting consumers and continuously innovating. That is what we have done for nearly 20 years and will continue to do. HTC has always been an underdog and we have always had to work hard and fight for every sale, every point of market share. We are a relatively young company.
We have been through a difficult period over the last few years. Positioning and selling our HTC Desire range—we didn’t have enough spectrum of product last year. That was one factor, which we feel why our market share dropped. But we have rectified that and have some great HTC Desire models this year—HTC Desire 210, HTC Desire 310, HTC Desire 816, are all beautiful phones with some knockout but simple benefits, and we need them to jump off the shelf. The response has already been overwhelming on most of them.
We have already taken definitive steps to make 2014 our most exciting and profitable year. We have streamlined our focus on two main product lines, HTC One and HTC Desire. We want to take advantage of the agility that enabled the company to experience such incredible growth in the past and adopt a nimble, entrepreneurial approach. Very soon we will again return HTC to a competitive position in the market.
How important is the Indian market for HTC from a global perspective?
India is a very important market for us. When we design our products, we have Indian users on our minds. We know that if we can succeed in India then we can succeed in not just emerging markets but also