HTC banks on One smartphone successor and its first wearables for 2014 turnaround

HTC is hoping that a successor to its flagship One smartphone, better marketing and its first entry into the wearable computing market will lift its fortunes and deliver a turnaround in 2014 that was supposed to have materialized last year but never truly did.

htc cher wang


"We feel positive and optimistic about 2014 when compared to 2013," HTC CFO Chang Chialin told Bloomberg. He is also serving as HTC's global head of sales.

HTC's sales slumped 30 percent in 2013 as it lost shares to LG Electronics and Lenovo. However, HTC is hoping for a true bounce-back in 2014. HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang said that the company will release a wearable device by this year's Christmas shopping season after years of development and technical hurdles.

"Many years ago we started looking at smart watches and wearables, but we believe that we really have to solve the battery problems and the LCD light problems," she told Bloomberg. "These are customer-centric problems."

Wang also said HTC plans to renew its marketing efforts in 2014. "To tell the truth, we never think marketing is that important--this is really not very good," Wang said. HTC did not say whether its marketing budget would rise this year after the company inked a $12 million deal last year with actor Robert Downey Jr. for him to serve as a company spokesman.

"It's really not only the budget increase, it's the way how you spend the money. Is it smart?" Wang said. "There's a lot of ways to reach the audience right now."

The One was well received by reviewers and critics, but failed to spark sales. HTC reported its first annual loss in 2013.

The company intends to release a successor to the One in March, featuring a similar unibody metal design but with a twin-sensor rear camera and a larger screen, Bloomberg reported last month, citing an unnamed source. HTC might reveal the new phone later this month at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain.

The company will also introduce a wider product portfolio in 2014 than it had last year. "2013 wasn't a very good year for HTC," Chang said. "We have to admit we took our eyes somewhat off the ball in making sure we have a robust portfolio in the mid- and affordable end, which we're fixing now."

Meanwhile, after Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) agreed to sell its Motorola Mobile division to Lenovo for $2.91 billion, some analysts and market watchers said that spelled bad news for HTC, since Lenovo had been rumored last year to be interested in acquiring HTC. Wang, HTC's largest shareholder, said the company will not go private and that she hasn't been talking to potential acquirers, and said HTC will continue as a standalone company.

"I haven't been approached," Wang said. "I think they didn't approach me because I think they know me and they know I am not going to sell."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this The Verge article

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