HTC’s newly appointed distributor, Ingram Micro Mobility, has admitted that the smartphone brand has to go “back to basics” in South Africa after HTC failed to live up to promises to expand its presence here in 2013.
Last month, TechCentral revealed that HTC was closing its South African office and that it would in future work indirectly in the local market through Ingram Micro, a global technology distribution business.
HTC has struggled to compete in a crowded smartphone market and has reverted to the channel model it favoured when it was represented in South Africa exclusively by its former distributor Leaf Wireless. The development was surprising given that just a year ago, the smartphone maker had vowed to launch a fresh marketing assault on this market.
Peter Blantanis, head of sales and marketing for HTC at Ingram Micro Mobility in South Africa, admits that the company will have to work to “build the brand from scratch”. It will focus on “getting the little things done right and ensuring we can slowly increase the brand awareness in this country”. It will sell only HTC’s flagship One and One Mini smartphones here.
He says that, encouragingly, South Africa’s mobile operators remain keen to offer the devices through their channels, but Blantanis says rebuilding the brand will be “a long road”, especially in a market where Korea’s Samsung Electronics is performing strongly and has a much larger budget for marketing.
HTC on Wednesday launched its new HTC One Mini model in South Africa. The Mini, which has a 4,3-inch screen (against the 4,7-inch display on the full-sized One model), has a recommended retail price of R5 500. It is available immediately from Vodacom and Cell C, but will only be launched on MTN in the first quarter of 2014.
Blantantis says the mobile operators will be key in helping Ingram Micro rebuild the HTC brand among South African consumers. “We can grow on that partnership and in specific areas,” he says. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media