HTC to shed white label?
HTC, the white-label Taiwanese manufacturer behind many U.S. carrier-branded phones, has announced a shift in Asian strategy that could have implications for the U.S. market.
Earlier this month HTC paid $14.5 million to acquire nine international subsidiaries of Dopod International, an HTC distributor, as part of plan to build the HTC brand. In July HTC will absorb Dopod's employees and, more importantly, the company will be able to drop the Dopod brand, instead selling the phones as "HTC" devices. HTC President Peter Chou told reporters, "if you really want to capture the value of innovation, you must have a brand identity."
This is a big deal. HTC has been an excellent partner for U.S. carries, offering them virtually full control over the branding and look & feel of its phones. Because of this, HTC is the biggest cell phone manufacturer that most people in the Western world have never heard of. According to Chou, HTC makes "70 to 80 percent" of the world's Windows Mobile powered phones. If HTC starts push backing against white-label devices, expect other manufacturers to follow suit.
As BusinessWeek points out, this the move from device supplier to recognized brand may not be an easy one. After years as a white label supplier, BenQ tried to make a similar the switch without much success.
To be fair, while HTC's head office announced a "global marketing strategy" focused on the HTC brand, it's unclear what, if anything, this means for American consumers. But even if HTC exempts U.S. carriers from this latest marketing push, I believe it is only a matter of time before the company demands greater visibility and a bigger piece of the pie. The truth is carriers need new phones to stay competitive almost as much as manufacturers need carrier deals in order to sell phones in the U.S. - Eli