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HTC looks at uphill battle to hit goal of 10 percent market share

TAIPEI--Even as HTC Corp. (宏達電) struggles to catch up with smartphone leaders Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc., the Taiwanese phone vendor's CEO said Tuesday that it is holding out hopes of gaining 8-10 percent of the market “in the long term.”

Speaking at the New York unveiling of the upgraded HTC One, codenamed M8, CEO Peter Chou (周永明) called gaining market share “a critical issue” as the company shifts to focus its resources in key markets, especially the United States, Europe and China.

HTC owned less than 5 percent of the global smartphone market last year, far behind Samsung's 31 percent and Apple's 16 percent, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

For HTC to nearly double that share — and rank as the world's third-largest smartphone maker — it will also have to outcompete low-cost Android phone makers from China like Huawei Technologies Co. (華為) and Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想集團).

HTC is hoping to renew its fortunes with the successor to last year's well received flagship One and a number of budget phones in its Desire series.

Chou said that one major change at the company last year was a shift in product strategy that sees it outsourcing some of those low-end phones to contract manufacturers in a push to diversify its product portfolio, though he did not say how many of the phones follow this model.

He also confirmed that HTC is developing new tablet and wearable computing products internally and will launch them “at the appropriate time.”

Some analysts have been skeptical that HTC's strategy of adjusting its product portfolio will be enough to gain traction in the fiercely competitive lower-end smartphone market.

It does not help that after reporting two consecutive quarterly operating losses in the third and fourth quarters of last year, HTC has projected a net loss per share of between NT$2.1 (US$0.07) and NT$2.6 for the first three months of 2014.

The company's chairwoman Cher Wang (王雪紅), however, has forecast that HTC will return to profitability in the second quarter of this year when its new products go on sale.

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HTC Corp. (宏達電) Chairman Cher Wang (王雪紅), center, and Philip Blair, left, HTC's General Manager of EMEA — Europe, the Middle East and Africa — hold up the smartphone vendor's upgraded HTC One, codenamed M8, for photos at its new product launch in New York on Wednesday, March 26. The mainstay model, on which HTC is counting to help restore profitability.

(CNA)

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