HTC just unveiled its new flagship smartphone, the One M8, but it faces an uphill battle in marketing against industry behemoths Apple and Samsung Electronics. To gain momentum and set itself apart, HTC is putting the phone on sale immediately and also taking a new, aggressive marketing strategy, according to a senior HTC executive.
HTC announced its latest flagship smartphone, the HTC One M8, which is an improvement over the original HTC One's software, camera and industrial design. HTC also has secured strong carrier distribution, especially in North America, in hopes it can gain inroads on Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S5, its main competitor for the moment in the high-end smartphone market.
HTC said that current CFO Chialin Chang will also serve as global head of sales for the time being as the Taiwanese smartphone maker works to reverse sales declines and spark a turnaround.
HTC is once again making Jason Mackenzie, its president of global sales, the leader of its Americas business. The company is also creating an emerging devices unit, though it's unclear what that will be focused on.
HTC said COO Matthew Costello will be leaving the company, the latest in a string of high-profile executive departures for the smartphone maker as it works to regain market share and sales momentum on the back of its flagship One smartphone.
HTC's net profit in the first quarter plunged as the company's earnings took a hit because of launch delays for the One, HTC's flagship smartphone around which it is basing its 2013 turnaround strategy.
HTC has received "several hundred thousand" U.S. pre-orders for its flagship One smartphone, according to an email from a top HTC executive. The news creates a clearer indication of domestic demand for the device that HTC is banking its comeback on. However, the timing of the launch of the device, particularly in the United States, will put the One in direct competition with Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S4.
HTC promised to be more aggressive in its marketing to counter the likes of Samsung Electronics and Apple--and that attitude was in full display in HTC's reaction to Samsung's unveiling of its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4.
HTC is searching for a comeback. After selling 43.2 million phones in 2011, according to research firm Gartner, HTC saw sales slide in 2012 down to 32.1 million units amid intense competition from the likes of Samsung Electronics and Apple at the high end and Huawei and ZTE at the lower end of the market. FierceWireless Editor Phil Goldstein talked with Jason Mackenzie, HTC's global president of sales, about the company's brand, the software features of the One and how the company can get its smartphone swagger back.
HTC reported that its February sales plunged 44 percent from the year-ago period, down to around $381.7 million, as the company awaits the launch of its new One smartphone, which it hopes will help reinvigorate sales. The weak showing is also an indication that the smartphone maker's emphasis on Microsoft's Windows Phone in the fourth quarter and into the early part of 2013 has done little to help stanch the company's bleeding.