HTC was the first mobile manufacturer to produce handsets using Google's Android software, and these took Western consumer markets by storm between 2008 and 2010, eclipsing the popularity of devices from far more established developers. At its peak, HTC was one of the world's top five smartphone manufacturers, but sales began to slow sharply towards the end of 2011 as that early lead was eclipsed by new models from Samsung and others. Sales have slumped alarmingly since then, falling from a peak of over 43m units in 2011 to fewer than 5m devices in 2017. The company no longer breaks out smartphone volumes but sales are now too low even to register on third-party researchers' radar, possibly as few as just 2m annually. What is left of the model range is now led by high-end U smartphones and mid-range Desire. As a result of its pioneering development of Android-powered devices, HTC was appointed early on by Google to produce that company's Pixel and Nexus smartphones. In 2017, Google acquired the bulk of HTC's development team working on those handsets, which the Taiwanese company continues to manufacture under contract. Contract manufacturing now represents arguably the most important source of group revenues. Almost as important, though still small, is virtual reality. In perhaps its boldest move, HTC was the first tech developer to launch a high-end VR system, the HTC Vive, in 2016, in partnership with software platform Steam. This is still arguably the most advanced VR headset on the market, and still the global market leader in dedicated headsets by market share. In another, though less successful experiment, HTC acquired a controlling stake in Dr Dre's Beats Audio business in 2011 in order to incorporate that technology into a new range of high-end handsets. However, the strategy didn't work out and it sold the shares after two years. (Beats was eventually acquired by Apple instead). HTC was founded in 1997 as High Tech Computer Corporation primarily to make private label handsets for wireless service providers. Co-founder Cher Wang is chairman; Yves Maitre was appointed as CEO in 2019. Revenues have plunged from a high of approx US $15bn in 2011 to approx $325m for 2019. In the latter year alone, revenues fell by more than 50%. The company has recorded a series of sizeable losses virtually every year since 2015. The deficit for 2019 was approx $305m. The only exception was 2018, which enjoyed a one-off boost from the sale to Google.
Capsule checked 23rd December 2020
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Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Sep 2017: Google took steps to bring back smartphone development inhouse for the first time since it offloaded Motorola to Lenovo in 2014. It has agreed to acquire a large chunk of struggling mobile manufacturer HTC's hardware design and development business, specifically the part that works on its Google Pixel smartphone, previously produced under contract. No manufacturing assets are included in the deal, but around half of HTC's research & design team - some 2,000 employees - will transfer to Google. The price tag was $1.1bn, equivalent to more than half of HTC's undisturbed market valuation. The Taiwanese manufacturer has seen its share of the mobile sector plummet in recent years as a result of the rapid growth of low-cost Chinese brands, from a high of almost 9% in 2011 to less than 1% last year. It will continue to manufacture the Pixel under contract, and a small range of its own smartphones, but is expected to shift the focus of its existing operations towards its well-regarded VR headsets.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Feb 2015: HTC filled the role of chief marketing officer, vacant since last summer. Idris Mootee, previously CEO of Canadian design agency Idea Couture, was named as the struggling Taiwanese handset maker's new marketing chief.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Jul 2014: Ben Ho, chief marketing officer of struggling mobile company HTC, has resigned following further declines in performance. His successor has yet to be named.
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Mar 2014: Mobile phone manufacturer HTC announced the transfer of its US account from Ogilvy back to previous agency Deutsch without a review
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Dec 2013: Mobile manufacturer HTC appointed Shannon Dix, formerly director of global clients at SapientNitro, as associate VP for creative communications, reporting to CMO Benjamin Ho.
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