After a period of “consolidation” at its local office, Taiwanese handset manufacturer HTC is promising a renewed assault on the South African market by increasing its profile in the country and introducing new Windows Phone 8 and Android 4.1 smartphones.
“We’ve had a period of consolidation over the last six months, trying to develop our relationship with the operators, get a lot deeper with them and helping them understand what we can do with them,” says HTC Middle East and Africa vice-president Jon French.
Earlier this year, HTC established a local office to serve the country’s two biggest mobile operators, MTN and Vodacom, directly. Previously, the operators had been served by local distributor Leaf Wireless. Leaf continues to distribute HTC products and maintain relationships with smaller operators Cell C and 8ta, although French tells TechCentral that the company plans to license additional distributors soon.
“Our stars are aligning and we have a good chance of growing aggressively in 2013 and that means we need to works with the best partners,” he says. “It’s about getting products to consumers as quickly as possible.”
French says HTC plans to “raise its brand awareness significantly” in the next six months and will “align” itself more closely with the operators’ technology roadmaps and their marketing programmes. He says the company will seek out partners that have relationships with partners it can’t reach itself. “We want to cast a much broader net in 2013 — to electronics retailers, supermarket chains and smaller operators.”
French says there is “acceptance” of the HTC brand and its products among South African consumers. “Now we just have to turn on the tap,” he says.
He believes HTC’s decision to back both Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating systems has positioned the company well competitively. “We’re equally serious about both platforms,” he says. “It’s healthy for the global smartphone market that there is a third competitive platform and we believe greatly in Windows Phone. We’d like it to be an equal part of our business [alongside Android]. Yes, I do think Microsoft can do it. You write off the company at your peril.”
HTC will launch the first Windows Phone 8 device in South Africa this week, the HTC Windows Phone 8X, more than two weeks before Nokia begins selling its new flagship Windows device, the Lumia 920. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media