HTC has closed its South African office and appointed a distributor, Ingram Micro Mobility, to sell its smartphones in the local market.
TechCentral has established that HTC, which is struggling to compete in a crowded smartphone market, has ended its direct presence and gone back to the channel model it favoured when it was represented in South Africa exclusively by its former distributor Leaf Wireless.
News that HTC is scaling back its business in South Africa is surprising given that, just a year ago, the company vowed to launch a fresh marketing assault. But it has failed to gain traction, possibly in part because of the aggressive and ubiquitous marketing by its direct rival in the Android smartphone market, Samsung.
In 2012, HTC established a South African office to serve the country’s two biggest mobile operators, MTN and Vodacom, directly. The two operators had previously been served by Leaf Wireless.
“Our stars are aligning and we have a good chance of growing aggressively in 2013 and that means we need to work with the best partners. It’s about getting products to consumers as quickly as possible,” HTC Middle East and Africa vice-president Jon French told TechCentral last October. “We want to cast a much broader net in 2013 – to electronics retailers, supermarket chains and smaller operators,” he said at the time.
However, the strategy doesn’t appear to have paid dividends for HTC. MTN confirmed this week that it only sells the company’s Windows Phone 8X device. Vodacom sells the 8X and the One, while Cell C carries no HTC handsets at all.
Now, HTC says that that Ingram Micro Mobility will act as its “official fulfilment and customer support partner” in South Africa. This comes after Ingram Micro bought a company called Brightpoint last year and rebranded as Ingram Micro Mobility.
Ingram Micro is a global wholesale technology distributor and logistics business and has sales offices in 37 countries representing about 1 700 vendors. HTC will continue to offer its flagship HTC One Android smartphone in South Africa and has confirmed that it will launch the more compact HTC One Mini before the end of the year.
HTC has struggled to compete in an increasingly competitive smartphone market, despite enjoying critical success with its latest devices. Earlier this month, it reported its first-ever quarterly loss. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media