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HTC confirms larger role for senior exec in China

TAIPEI -- Taiwanese handset maker HTC Corp. (宏達電) confirmed Tuesday that Chengjing Dong, its vice president for China, will take on more responsibilities to strengthen the company's sales in the world's largest smartphone market.

Dong has been responsible for HTC's smartphone sales with Chinese carriers China Unicom and China Telecom, and he now will also oversee the company's business with China Mobile Ltd., the world's biggest network of mobile phone users, HTC told CNA.

“It is simply an adjustment of personal duties in order to continue strengthening HTC's partnerships with major telecom operators in China,” the Taoyuan-based company said in an email.

The news was first reported by Chinese news site Sina, citing anonymous sources.

HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang (王雪紅) said last September that her company is aiming for a 20 percent share of China's high-end market by introducing two flagship smartphones, the One and the Butterfly.

HTC CEO Peter Chou said at a general meeting with employees in October last year that HTC also plans to make smartphones priced under 1,000 Chinese yuan (US$164) to target the low-cost segment in China, which is crowded with Chinese handset makers.

Morgan Stanley estimated last October that HTC would have only a 2 percent share of China's smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2013, well below the 4.5 percent share it projected for Xiaomi Corp., a fast-growing Chinese maker of cheap smartphones.

The top five vendors during the quarter were expected to be Samsung Electronics Co. with a 17.3 percent market share, Lenovo Group Ltd. with 11.9 percent, Coolpad Group Ltd. with 10.4 percent, ZTE Corp. with 8.3 percent and Apple Inc. with 8.1 percent, the U.S. brokerage said.

According to a survey conducted by research firm Avanti between Nov. 27 and Dec. 2 last year, only 3.2 percent of Chinese consumers said they will buy an HTC-branded smartphone the next time they are in the market for a mobile phone.

That was lower than the interest shown in Samsung (24.3 percent), Apple (21.1 percent), Xiaomi (13.8 percent), Huawei Technologies Co. (4 percent) and Nokia Oyj (3.5 percent), Avanti said.

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