HTC Exits In­dia

5 LESSONS FOR OTHER SMART­PHONE BRANDS

PCQuest - - CONTENTS - FAISAL KA­WOOSA, Head- New Ini­tia­tives, CMR

HTC, one of the most pre­mium brands in In­dia over the past decade, has fi­nally shut its mo­bile hand­set op­er­a­tions in one of the most ex­cit­ing growth mar­ket for smart­phones. Ear­lier this year, HTC had sold off its de­sign team to Google for $1.1 Bn. While we may con­ve­niently as­cribe HTC’s exit to the rapid growth of Chi­nese brands in the past few years in In­dia, it is more of a fail­ure on the part of the brand to judge the com­pe­ti­tion as well as grasp the mar­ket re­al­i­ties.

HTC was among very few mo­bile hand­set brands that had gar­nered the sweet­est spot that any brand can desire for in the mar­ket, which is, be­ing per­ceived as an in­no­va­tive brand as well as hav­ing a pull fac­tor. HTC was once a pre­mium tag and users would flaunt of their HTC smart­phones. They were very right in do­ing so as the Smart­phones were aes­thet­i­cally ap­peal­ing, us­ing the best of the ma­te­ri­als and fin­ish to add to the pre­mium fi­nesse.

As per the CMR Mo­bile In­dus­try Con­sumer In­sights Sur­vey, a pan-In­dia con­sumer sur­vey con­ducted in­de­pen­dently by Cy­ber­Me­dia Re­search in early 2017, Sam­sung, Ap­ple and HTC were rated by con­sumers as the most suc­cess­ful mo­bile brands in the first decade of smart­phones in In­dia. 78% of those sur­veyed named HTC as one of the most iconic brands in In­dia, with HTC’s brand pull be­ing pinned down to its in­no­va­tive­ness, its de­sign and looks and up-to- date tech­nol­ogy.

Faisal Ka­woosa, Head – New Ini­tia­tives at CMR opines, “HTC as in­no­va­tive it was in tech­nol­ogy could not match it with in­no­va­tions in the busi­ness model or ex­e­cu­tion. Think of any busi­ness in­no­va­tion, it was either too late to adopt or else didn’t par­tic­i­pate at all. This was the main rea­son for HTC to chart out a dif­fer­ent tra­jec­tory as against the mar­ket move­ments.”

As per Prabhu Ram, Head – In­dus­try In­tel­li­gence Group at CMR, “There are some key lessons for other smart­phone brands emerg­ing from HTC’s In­dia exit. While smart­phone in­no­va­tion, and the con­stant

bat­tle for ‘lat­est specs’ is cen­tric to a brand success, it is crit­i­cal that it goes hand in hand with con­sumer as well as mar­ket un­der­stand­ing and un­der­ly­ing mar­ket re­al­i­ties. HTC’s most re­cent mid-range smart­phone launch, the HTC Desire 12+, failed in get­ting its pric­ing right. At around 20,000 ru­pees, it did not of­fer a com­pelling rea­son for con­sumers to opt for it. Other mo­bile hand­set brands of­fer far more, at far lesser prices.”

HTC’s exit is in­deed an un­be­com­ing event for the Smart­phone in­dus­try in In­dia. How­ever, it is leav­ing be­hind a lot of learn­ing for others who are also feel­ing ‘suf­fo­cated’ due to var­i­ous rea­sons that may not just be dis­rup­tive, but de­struc­tive as well. Some of the key learn­ings for the brands would in­clude the fol­low­ing:

These may ap­pear to be very sim­ple state­ments. But, busi­nesses which ad­dress the ba­sic issues never en­tan­gle into com­plex prob­lems. It is wise to ar­rest the issues when they can be han­dled at an early stage.

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