Questions Surround HTC After China Retreat

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HTC ‘temporarily closes’ Chinese outlets. Is this the end for pioneering Android smartphone maker?

Questions are being raised about the future of the HTC brand, after the Taiwanese smartphone maker decided to withdraw its smartphones from two of China’s largest online marketplaces.

HTC is of course the longest serving Android smartphone maker, after it released the first ever Android smartphone (the HTC Dream) back in September 2008.

But according to IDC data, the firm has seen its global share of the smartphone market drop from a peak of 10.7 percent in 2011 to just 0.05 percent today.

China retreat

HTC posted a message to Weibo in which it warned it was ‘temporarily closing’ its online shops on Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com’s Jingdong.

Officially, the Taiwanese company was quoted by the BBC as saying that it still intends to release at least one new smartphone model later this year.

But the China retreat has triggered speculation that HTC is winding down its smartphone activities, as it has done in other regions.

In the UK for example HTC handsets are no longer offered by outlets such as Carphone Warehouse, O2 and EE.

Instead British customers either have to use HTC’s own website or Amazon to acquire the smartphones.

“All the signs are that it’s not viable for them to do business in China, and China is one of the markets which has the potential to provide the volume that companies like HTC need to survive in the smartphone business,” Ben Wood from the CCS Insight consultancy was quoted by the BBC as saying.

Google factor

It should be remembered that Google actually purchased much of HTC’s smartphone design team (roughly 2,000 HTC staff), after the two firms entered into a $1.1 billion deal back in 2017.

That deal essentially saw HTC engineers migrated across to the search engine giant to create Google-branded Pixel handsets.

HTC always said at the time that it would continue to work on its own flagship phones as well as pushing ahead with developing its Vive virtual reality division.

HTC has also reportedly unveiled a 5G hub to provide homes and offices with next-generation mobile networks.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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