HTC is not like any other brand that comes and goes,” says Chia-Lin Chang, president of global sales and chief financial officer at HTC. The
Indian smartphone industry is under intense competition and handset vendors are acutely aware that innovation in the handsets space is important for business growth. “Despite more and more brands coming up in the market, HTC’s market share will continue to grow as consumers like the good experience and design our devices give and the features that we provide,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction. Excerpts:
India’s smartphone market is super hot these days with global as well as domestic players launching handsets on a regular basis. How do you look at the present market scenario?
I think the Indian smartphone market will continue to grow in the coming years. What is important is to know the needs of the consumer. What I personally see is that the need is very diverse globally, that is, consumer behaviour versus the diverse infrastructure status. Therefore, our goal here is to create something that fits the market the best. That is why we don’t work the way we would work, may be in the US or Germany.
In the Indian market, what we notice is that the consumers are very enthusiastic about different designs and different colours. Their acceptance for colours is really commendable; every time we create an innovative design they like it, we can see their acceptance about it which we like because that is something that suits our strength.
Another thing what matters here is that they look at the overall experience so we always think about what we can come up with something that has an overall great performance. That is because you can have a phone with lower pricing, but features is what is most important.
Give us a sense of the big story emerging out of HTC.
The big story this year from HTC would be that we plan to grow in terms of volume. This year, consumers around the world will see HTC introducing products beyond smartphones, not just regular so-called verbal devices which will give great eye catching experience, people will look at it and say, ‘wow this is good’. We intend to introduce all these things by the year-end. HTC will focus on
human connect and will come up with something different.
What is the differentiator that HTC brings to the table? Why should a consumer pick up a HTC device?
Despite more and more brands coming up and participating in the Indian market, what you will see is that HTC’s market share will continue to grow as consumers like the experience HTC gives at a particular price and the features that we provide. Secondly, on the brand level we want to continue to serve; HTC stands for good brand quality, good experience and good design and that is something we strive for. We are here since many years and we want to continue being in the market and not like any other brand that comes and goes. We are here for the future because that is how we build trust among the consumers.
There is also a fierce tussle going on between online and offline players for selling the latest devices…
Yes, but I think that both the online and offline players will co-exist. In the coming years, the online platform will continue to grow but
the offline platform still accounts for the big majority in the final distribution which is quite important. We work well with our partners
and think that we will be able to strike the right balance so as to make sure that product price is consistent.
How is HTC performing in India? What is your go-to-market strategy for the India market?
Based on our internal sales data, we have a market share somewhere around 6% but we have a very strong ambition to go upto 10%. We are present in the segment around R10,000 and above, but we will go slightly below that range. Also, we will work with more partners and will focus our brand ambition on consumer satisfaction. We may not have 30% market share but when people have a HTC model in their hands, they must feel comfortable with the right design and right experience. I will not take names of other brands as it would not be a polite thing to say but many brands do copy a lot. We have all unique designs and people will notice this and this is what is call a brands trust.
In terms of the growth rate here, we are very happy as we are going to head for 10% market share. The feedback from the consumers and the retail partners is positive and we will continue making good phones for our consumers.
Any plans to launch a wearable device?
Yes, we do intend to introduce wearable technology and wearable products in the near future.
Do you plan to manufacture your products in India and support ‘Make in India’ initiative?
According to our overall strategic planning, we are not at a very mature stage. Our goal is very simple and you will have to wait for a quarter or so before we have a whole list of plans to introduce to you. Our goal is to become a trusted brand here in India. We have to do a lot of localisation so that we can serve the consumer best and that is something we are looking forward to.