Re­align­ing Mo­bile In­no­va­tion


HWM (Singapore) - - Q & A - by Sid­ney Wong

With over 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the mo­bile telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try, What do you think it take for a com­pany to deliver a suc­cess­ful prod­uct to­day?

First, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has to be laser clear on what it is aim­ing for. If you have too many de­vices, it is hard for a com­pany to fo­cus. For any com­pany to be suc­cess­ful, it needs a team to be fo­cused on do­ing the right thing from the sup­ply chain, prod­uct de­sign, pric­ing to the mar­ket­ing. Just look at Ap­ple and Mo­torola dur­ing its hey­days; there is al­ways a team that is very clear on what they are do­ing.

HTC is also try­ing to achieve this; we had a lot of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts in the past, but this year’s port­fo­lio is a lot cleaner. We have the HTC One fam­ily – the One, the One (M8) – and the De­sire fam­ily – the 816 and 610. There is a lot of syn­ergy on the de­sign and user in­ter­face. Now, our phones have a con­sis­tent look and feel.

Sec­ond, a com­pany has to deliver what it prom­ises to the con­sumers. That’s the rea­son why Peter Chou (CEO of HTC) stepped out of the day-to-day op­er­a­tions to fo­cus on the prod­uct. At the end of the day, prod­uct is re­ally the king for any com­pany. If you look at Ap­ple, which is one of the best com­pa­nies, Steve Jobs did the same thing and took that to heart. We got to take a fo­cused ap­proach to the con­sumers and the de­sign of our prod­ucts.

What’s your take on wear­able de­vices? Are con­sumers ready?

Con­sumers are ready for wear­able de­vices, but wear­able de­vices are still in the early stages. Just look at Nike; they just aban­doned the hard­ware team and is solely fo­cus­ing on the soft­ware.

To me, wear­ables will get onto cloth­ing at some point. I don’t think they are wrist watches or glasses. I think they (con­sumers) want wear­ables to be part of their life­style where they can clip onto some­thing that is al­ready ex­ist­ing or in­te­grate some­where on their cloth­ing.

We will have our wear­ables in the mid­dle of the year. Ev­ery­one is try­ing to fig­ure out how to make wear­ables as stand­alone de­vices. Wear­ables have to use ki­net­ics or mo­tion to self-gen­er­ate the en­ergy, and if some­one gets that, it will bring wear­ables to the next level. I think the big­gest ques­tion is what con­sti­tutes a true wear­able de­vice that ev­ery­body re­ally wants to have. Wear­ables are very sub­jec­tive; (i.e.) people buy watches based on cer­tain looks and feel.

We’ve no­ticed that re­cent An­droid smart­phones are a lit­tle un­der­whelm­ing. Have in­no­va­tions stag­nated?

I do not to­tally agree with that; in­no­va­tions are still there. If you look at the HTC One (M8) and its Duo Cam­era, it is the first of its kind in the world and has taken imag­ing tech­nol­ogy to the next level. Right now, the Duo Cam­era is at the in­fancy stage. As we con­tinue to in­no­vate in the lat­ter part of this year and into next year, there are go­ing to be a new set of soft­ware and bet­ter cam­eras to be brought out. Con­sumers can ex­pect to see some­thing very in­ter­est­ing from HTC later in the year.

Chi­nese phone mak­ers Oppo and Vivo have re­leased smart­phones with 2K dis­plays. Why hasn’t the in­dus­try fol­lowed yet?

The in­dus­try hasn’t moved to­wards 2K dis­plays be­cause of three rea­sons. One, the foot­print of the de­vice is very limited. Two, there aren’t many 2K dis­play man­u­fac­tur­ers at this stage. Three, there is still a lot of con­cerns on bat­tery life and giv­ing the best dis­play at the right cost.

As the evo­lu­tion of mo­bile dis­plays gets bet­ter over­time, I be­lieve there will be more phones with 2K dis­plays. HTC (too) is look­ing at 2K dis­plays and it is on our roadmap some­where.

The next bat­tle­ground for smart­phones is in emerg­ing mar­kets as the high end seg­ment is sat­u­rated. How does HTC dif­fer­en­ti­ate its prod­ucts from the other phone mak­ers who usu­ally com­pete on price?

We carry out re­search in these mar­kets to see what con­sumers re­ally want in a phone. What we found out across the board is that con­sumers are look­ing for a de­sign that has a cer­tain look and feel that in their opin­ion, rep­re­sents value for money and pre­mium. That’s what we did for the De­sire 210 which was launched in In­dia.

We un­der­stand the high end seg­ment is col­laps­ing into the mid-tier. Con­sumers are be­gin­ning to ques­tion whether it is still worth to pay so much for flag­ship mod­els. The en­try level space is dif­fer­ent; con­sumers are try­ing to mi­grate to us­ing smart­phones and we can’t ex­pect them to jump straight to the mid-tier de­vices when they do not need to use the ad­vanced fea­tures. Our in­tent is to give the con­sumers who mi­grate from these fea­ture phones a good im­pres­sion with their first smart­phone, so that they can even­tu­ally as­pire to move up to the mid and pre­mium tier. We are now play­ing strate­gi­cally in all tiers that make sense to us.

Many emerg­ing mar­kets are still go­ing through the 2G to 3G con­ver­gence. Con­sumers in these mar­kets are price sen­si­tive yet de­mand a cer­tain level of qual­ity, and that’s what we are try­ing to do with the De­sire 210. Un­like other phone mak­ers who use pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion hard­ware and lower their prices, HTC is bring­ing brand new de­vices with price points that we be­lieve fit the mar­kets.


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