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Niche markets vital to HTC comeback: analysts

By Jeffrey Wu and James Lee--Taiwanese smartphone vendor HTC Corp. still has a chance to regain its previously strong position in the increasing competitive mobile phone market if it can tap into niche content and segments, according to industry analysts.

“HTC has some serious problems within the company,” said C.W. Chen, chief researcher of the Center of Knowledge-based Economy and Competitiveness at Taiwan's state-funded Industrial Technology Research Institute.

“Based on my knowledge, HTC's internal innovation management lacks efficiency, and the company had failed to carry out some really good ideas or creative thoughts,” he said in a telephone interview recently.

HTC's relatively weakened ability to innovate has also been evidenced by a closer tie between its partner Google Inc. and its rival Samsung Electronics Co., as Samsung has replaced HTC as Google's top partner in the Android camp to launch cutting-edge devices, Chen said.

Although the world's first smartphone running on Google's Android system was made by HTC in 2008, such strong partnerships appear to have faded during the past two years when Samsung became more aggressive in supply chain integration and brand marketing, he noted.

In the April-June period of 2012, HTC's shipments plunged 24.1 percent annually to 8.8 million units. The Taiwanese firm ranked fourth with a 5.7-percent share of the global market, said U.S.-based research firm International Data Corp. (IDC).

The HTC figures were far below the 11.6 million units and the 10.7 percent market share it recorded in the second quarter of 2011, IDC said.

Meanwhile, Samsung extended its position with record single-quarter shipments of 50.2 million units, or 32.6 percent of the market, while Apple shipped 26.0 million units to capture a 16.9-percent market share.

Given the intensified competition, Chen said he still believes HTC could make a turnaround because there is still a lot of room in the smartphone market for innovations, such as smart identification systems for voice, hand writing, face or finger prints.

Furthermore, he suggested HTC form partnerships with famous international companies to develop special-designed handsets for online learning and mobile shopping, in a bid to create a smooth user experience for its consumers.

“It's not a time to reduce investments but to spend money more accurately and choose partners more wisely,” Chen added.

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This undated photo provided by HTC shows the Taiwan smartphone maker's latest Desire X series, launched at the consumer electronics trade show IFA in Berlin, Thursday, Aug. 30.

(CNA)

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