Affordable without compromise [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC Corporation talks about engaging the next phase of the mobile tech industry, writes Nicholas King.
THIS year has brought about a shifting trend that may last the next few years - affordable smartphones with near-premium specs, thanks to China's international expansion in the market, an increased interest in smart wearables, the booming development of app software, an increase in online retail and distribution, as well as an ever competitive market.
This has forced many brands and companies to rethink how to constantly keep up with the times.
HTC, just hot off the trail of releases of HTC One E8, Butterfly 2 and a Windows variant of the HTC One M8, knows it mustn't take the changing tides too lightly. The launch of its Butterfly 2 in Japan indicted the direction of their business model.
The strategy, according to HTC North Asia president Jack Tong, is to adapt and expand.
"Most of Asia share a taste similar to the Japanese market, from quality to design," says Tong, explaining why it has chosen to launch Butterfly 2 (coded as HTC J Butterfly HTL23 or J2 in Japan) in the Land of the Rising Sun.
"The first Butterfly J hit No. 1 in sales just two months after its Japanese debut. A combined sale of over 500,000 with the rest of Asia allowed HTC to achieve its millionth sale goal.
"Its launch, like the Butterfly 2, is about form factor. We hope to give consumers an option because we find that the HTC One's premium design appeals to both ordinary men and professionals.
"The HTC One E8 and Butterfly 2 are designed to appeal to a broader market, particularly casual buyers, families and women because it is part of our company's direction to drive home the idea of emotional attachment - that your mobile is a part of you.
"There are lots of female smartphone users in the market and we want to engage them. So, on top of features and usability, we focus heavily on design and colour to turn our smartphones into fashion accessories.
"The Japanese market is huge, given its population and interest in technology. On top of that, we want more women in our user base."
HEART OF THE FUTURE
"Mobile technology is always about improving and expanding in possibilities, so it is no surprise if tablets and smart watches gain traction in the future. Yet nothing can replace the smartphone right now," says Tong.
"The form factor of the smartphone is simply perfect, as a tool for communication, viewing and entertainment. It is an all-in-one and an easy-to-carry device that slips right into your pocket.
"It doesn't look as awkward when making calls when compared to tablets. It has sufficient screen display size and enough performance to view videos, play games and surf the Internet ? all without having to carry or hold an extra bag."
HTC aims to strengthen its mid-range portfolio on top of continuously maintaining its position in the premium market.
"There is strong competition in the emerging mid-range market and we must engage it or fall behind. It cannot be ignored since the market trend isn't only about premium smartphones but also affordable models as well," says Tong.
"It doesn't make sense to make a premium product affordable by sacrificing performance and quality. This is where mid-range phones fit in.
"We can add better components to a midrange phone without lowering quality."
Will HTC be concentrating on online sales? Tong says: "While there is an increase in online sales, we mustn't ignore the store retail aspect. There are still many customers who prefer to see and feel the product before making a purchase."
KEY TO SUCCESS
"We focus heavily on the design because first impression is an important part of the experience.
Next is user interface, followed by the camera and the other features," says Tong.
"The company is currently focusing on social sharing video, picture and audio remixer software app HTC Zoe because we feel that the social media experience is more than just keeping others updated.
"Collectively acting as one single community and sharing each other's experience is what makes social media progressive.
"To this end, you can expect HTC to expand further in the software business."
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