Can HTC’s smartphone vie with Galaxy S3?
By Cho Mu-hyun
Taiwanese handset maker HTC has not given up on the domestic market despite repeated failures to make a noticeable dent here against Korean firms.
According to industry sources, the company plans to release the One X, the latest in its One series, sometime next month.
The release date will be around the domestic launch of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S3, which is selling hot off the shelves since it started sales in 28 countries earlier this month. Two of the three domestic mobile carriers are already taking pre-orders for the touch-screen handset that many expect to dominate the market for a time to come.
The new phone will also vie with other hot-selling products released last month by local manufacturers. Pantech’s Vega Racer 2 and LG Electronics’ Optimus LTE 2 have sold around 210,000 and 160,000 handsets respectively, backed by aggressive promotional campaigns.
“The company is in talks over different marketing plans,” said a HTC representative here. “HTC is not giving up on the Korean market, and will show a differentiated plan from competitors to increase sales and market share.”
The Taiwanese company is speculated to have set the price at 800,000 won, slightly cheaper than smartphones by Korean rivals at around 900,000 won. Though the spokeswoman declined to reveal the exact cost and release date for the One X, she did add that HTC’s previous models have been comparatively cheaper than their Korean counterparts.
The One X started sales in globally in April, and along with the One XL, (a long-term evolution (LTE) model that carriers a quad-core processor) is the handset that HTC is pushing this year. HTC Korea has another, yet unnamed phone to be unveiled sometime this year.
But the firm’s prospects for this year are not good. Its Korean office is currently without a country manager and being steered by headquarters in Taiwan. Lee Chul-hwan who headed the domestic subsidiary was sacked after a brief six-month tenure for failing to make a substantial difference in the market. The representative said that the company is still discussing the issue of Lee’s replacement.
HTC is one of many overseas companies here that is being crushed by domestic handset makers.
“Putting the actual quality and features of the new phone aside, foreign models just can’t withstand the overwhelming edge in brand image that Korean companies like Samsung or LG have,” said an industry official, who declined to be named.
Korea is notoriously hard for foreign companies to tap into due to the iron grip of Pantech, Samsung and LG Electronics that together account for 99 percent of market share in total handsets, according to a consensus of industry officials here.
The only foreign competitor offering some opposition to the local companies is the California-based Apple, which has around 5 percent of the smartphone market share, noticeably high for an overseas company.
HTC’s most recent Korean release was the Sensational XL last year, which failed to change the company’s fortunes here.