HTC Corp. to ramp up marketing efforts

By Ted Chen, The China Post

Handset maker HTC Corp. said yesterday that it will increase spending on online and traditional media marketing by 250 percent and 100 percent respectively from last year, in an effort to compete with rival Samsung.

The smartphone market is poised to heat up next month following the release of high-profile flagship handsets including HTC’s One and Samsung’s Galaxy SIV. In contrast to Samsung’s conventionally sizeable and broad marketing methods, HTC said that due to numerous limitations it will adopt a more targeted approach this year.

HTC’s chief marketing officer, Benjamin Ho (何永生), described the company’s target demographic this year as “individuals possessing attributes of leadership, creativity, influence and intrigue.” Specifically, the company is targeting the estimated 1.1 billion “power users” around the world who are interested in being at the forefront of the hardware, design and function worlds. Power users tend to use more than a few mobile apps, and demand advanced integrated functions, said Ho. According to its financial statements, Samsung last year spent over US$11 billion on marketing for its numerous product lines, with the rental costs of billboards located at New York’s Times Squares estimated at US$3-4 million a year alone. Concern over HTC’s Supply Chain Management Remain Following a number of delays at major markets including North America, Europe and Asia, the market is rife with speculation concerning a bottleneck in HTC’s supply of parts for its in-demand flagship handsets.

According to commentators, the speculated parts bottleneck is said to affect the handset’s camera module, speakers and aluminum chassis. In addition, with the company’s history of canceling orders due to waning demand, industry observers suspect that the company is no longer considered a “tier-one” client by a number of suppliers. Both HTC and its suppliers stepped forward to refute rumors of strained relationships and difficulties in supplying components, with commentary subsequently urging the company to re-evaluate its supply chain management efforts. HTC indicated that the delays were necessary in providing the best quality control in its products.

Currently, distribution of HTC’s new flagship phone is scheduled to begin this week in Taiwan, the UK and Germany, with Europe, North America and Asia to follow toward the end of April. Meanwhile, there have been reports of concern that HTC has lost its lead in releasing this year’s flagship model one and a half months ahead of Samsung, due to supply chain issues and delayed distribution.