25 August 2019
HTC has markedly improved its time-to-market performance. As a result
HTC has markedly improved its time-to-market performance. As a result

How M8 smartphone could change HTC fortunes

Taiwan smartphone maker HTC Corp. (02498.TW) is betting on its latest flagship, HTC One (M8), to turn its fortunes around.

The company has been losing ground to Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics, not to mention some domestic rivals with stronger supply chain management, wider sales networks and better product differentiation.

The M8 was unveiled simultaneously in Britain and the United States by chairperson Cher Wang and chief executive Peter Chou, respectively.

The high-profile launches mark a slew of key changes. The M8 is the first HTC product to come off the assembly line under a shorter time-to-market production schedule. Announced on March 25, the handset became available on March 28 in selected markets including Taiwan. Several key markets such as the US and Britain will have the M8 on store shelves within weeks of the announcement.

That is a vast improvement from last year when a two-month gap separated a product launch and the first shipment to stores.

One point worth noting is that the M8 will hit the market ahead of Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 in major markets, even though these rival products were unveiled much earlier.

With the timing and shipment in place, the M8 should enjoy first-mover advantage in this round of smartphone releases, especially after Samsung and Sony failed to impress gadget users with any significant upgrade. The M8 brings in some innovative features and design.

The handset features a five-inch full-HD display, motion sensors that let you launch apps by making swipe gestures on the screen even when the phone is in standby mode, and a third camera sensor that allows you to refocus an image after you have taken it. Also, the M8 has been updated with a faster quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a microSD card slot.

In fact, the M8 has more or less the same power as its top rivals as they are all using the same chip made by Qualcomm Inc. The difference is mainly in design, camera resolution, user interface and sound quality. HTC continues to offer its unique ultra pixel camera focus rather than more megapixels. Its Blinkfeed user interface enables users to receive news updates, Facebook notifications, as well as TV program alerts on the start page of the phone. These detailed features differentiate the M8 from other Android smartphones on the market.

A wider sales and distribution network for the M8 should greatly enhance HTC’s chances of winning back some ground from its rivals. This year, HTC secured more than 100 mobile operators for its products within the first month of their launch, suggesting it has solved a supply chain bottleneck. Investors can expect better second-quarter results on M8 shipments.

HTC is aiming its comeback at the premium phone market but it is equally focused on the mid-range bracket. Its Desire 816 series has drawn more than one million pre-orders in China within a month. Priced at 1,899 yuan (US$305), the phone features a 5.5-inch HD screen and a colorful look. It will be HTC’s key weapon against Chinese rivals such as ZTE Corp. (00763.HK), Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi Technology. With a strong brand name, HTC can be competitive in this segment, too.

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EJ Insight writer

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