A senior executive of Taiwanese company HTC as claimed that consumers “do not really think of Sony as Japanese” anymore. He then went on to claim that “Eventually people will see HTC as a global brand.
John Wang, the global marketing manager at HTC, a company who spend very little on brand advertising when compared to the likes of Apple, Samsung, LG and Sony, believes that HTC can hold onto their Android market despite an onslaught of new products from competitors. He is also trying to avoid being tagged a Taiwanese company, by holding product launches in cities like London and New York, as opposed to downtown Taipei.
In 2008, HTC was just behind Apple selling 3.7 million Smartphones, Vs 4.4 million iPhones.
|HTC’s new HD3 Windows Phone 7 which will be launched in London next week.
12 months later Apple sold 8.4 million units while HTC only managed to increase their sales to 5.5 million units.
Two months ago, Samsung entered the Android market and as HTC tries to hit a sales target of 6.5 million phones, the Korean manufacturer has announced that they have sold two million Android Smartphones in eight weeks and are set to sell 25 million by the end of 2010.
During an interview with Associated Press in China, John Wang, the 13-year-old company’s chief marketing officer, said: “We want to be one of the leaders,” in trying to establish a global brand.
The big problem for HTC, say advertising executives, is that brands like Samsung, Sony and Apple have moved to using US or Europe-based advertising agencies to develop massive consumer driven advertising campaigns. They have invested millions in brand marketing and PR, while HTC is sticking money into carriers’ pockets like Telstra and Optus in an effort to hold onto distribution via the carrier channel.
HTC doesn’t like spending dollars on consumer marketing. Last month Nokia, Apple and Samsung invited journalists to London and the USA for global product launches. HTC did the same. The only problem was that all they offered was an economy class fare for a three day return trip to London.
Their penny pinching and their lack of investment in marketing have already been noticed.
Joseph Pai, chairman of advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather in Asia, said of the HTC brand: “They get the technology right, but Apple is considered fun and creative and very bright,” said Pai. “HTC is quite serious. Their technology is good. They keep coming out with new products. But they need to find their own personality.”
HTC’s answer to Apple and Samsung’s marketing is a campaign based on creating “moments of delight.”
In some countries like the US carriers are not branding HTC made phones, HTC.
HTC’s path to its own brand has been complicated by U.S. carriers’ preference for many years to market its phones under their own brands.
Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA, and Sprint Nextel have all sold HTC phones under their own brand as opposed to the HTC brand.
Even now, HTC is careful to avoid straining ties with carriers by promoting its own identity too aggressively. Such ties are crucial in the United States, Japan and other markets where carriers usually pick which phones to offer. In Europe and elsewhere, customers pick their own phones and buy service separately said AP.
“I don’t think it should ever become a ‘destination phone,’ because that is very arrogant,” Wang said.
The company’s slogan, “Quietly Brilliant,” expresses both modesty and pride.
AP said that in contrast to lookalike iPhones, HTC tries to make handsets for every taste, some with slide-out keyboards, others with touch screens. While Apple has its own online store, HTC focuses on phones while carriers pick which music and applications to offer.
“This is positioning the vendor almost diametrically against the increasing perception of Apple as an egotistical and domineering company,” Seth Wallis-Jones, an analyst for IHS Global Insight, said in an e-mail.
“This is a contrast to a company that wants to do one phone only and say, `This is the one and you are going to love it and if you don’t, there is something wrong with you,'” Wang said.
HTC cut its teeth on smart phones that used Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software. But when Google released its Android smart phone software in 2008, HTC was the first manufacturer on board, and that’s paid off.
HTC is pitted against Apple in the legal arena as well. Apple sued HTC in March in the U.S., accusing it of violating 20 iPhone patents. In May, HTC filed a countersuit accusing Apple of violating five patents.
HTC promotes itself as a cross-border brand, with no mention of its Taiwanese roots. The company holds major product launches in London or New York, rather than Asia.
“People don’t really think of Sony as Japanese any more. That’s what I envision HTC to be,” Wang said. “Eventually people will see HTC as a global brand, not necessarily from Taiwan or Europe or the U.S.”