Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer, HTC, launched two new smartphones, the Desire 616 and One (E8), in India. This is a strategic move by the company by means of which they are in hopes of acquiring 15% share of the multi-billion dollar Indian smartphone market. HTC has been reported to be in a loss of close to $100 million (as per company reports for Q4 in 2013). However, this has not lowered the confidence of the executives who were pretty optimistic about the performance of this phones. They believe that this could kickstart their return into the global as well as Indian smartphone market which could help them to cover up their losses.
The Desire 616 is priced at Rs 16,900 which is in line with the mid-segment range. Similarly, the company has come out with the “cheaper” version of its high end One M8 smartphone (the One E8), which is priced at Rs. 34,900. The specifications for them are as follows:
HTC Desire 616
- Processor: 1.4 GHz octacore processor
- Display: 5 inch screen HD Display with 720 pixel resolution
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Storage: 4 GB Internal Memory (expandable up to 32 GB)
- Camera: 8 MP with Auto-Focus and Full HD Video Recording at 1080p (Rear) and 2 MP with Video Recording at 720p (Front)
- SIM Support: Dual SIM Device (Regular SIM + micro SIM)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n, 3G and Bluetooth® 4.0
- OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with HTC Sense 5.5 UI
- Battery: 2000 mAh (Removable rechargeable Li-polymer battery)
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
- Size: 142 x 71.9 x 9.15 mm
- Weight: 150 grams
- Price: INR 16,900
HTC One E8
- Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 801, quad-core CPUs
- Display: 5 inch screen Full HD 1080p display
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Storage: 16 GB Internal Memory (expandable up to 128 GB)
- Camera: 13MP, BSI sensor, f/2.2, 1080p video recording (Rear) and 5MP, BSI sensor, 1080p video recording (Front)
- SIM Support: Dual Nano SIM
- Connectivity: Bluetooth® 4.0 with aptX™ enabled, Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 & 5 GHz), DLNA® for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to a compatible TV or computer, HTC Connect™, micro-USB 2.0 port, 3G and 4G LTE.
- OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
- Battery: 2600 mAh (Embedded rechargeable Li-polymer battery)
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Gyro sensor
- Size: 146.42 x 70.67 x 9.85 mm
- Weight: 145 grams
- Price: INR 34,990
The specifications for both of these phones may be good enough but considering the average Indian’s perspective of cost-value benefits, these phones may find it difficult to cut through the competition. There are so many smartphones running the latest OS which are priced conveniently low. The current trend in the smartphone industry exhibits inclination of demands towards sub-$100 phones which have decent features. Brand such as Gionee, Micromax, Xiaomi, and Xolo are offering some really cool high end features with a highly affordable price tag (even if some products are priced in the mid-segment).
On being asked about the exclusion of HTC from the sub-$100 phone segment, CFO Chian-Lin Chang said that the company wished to “concentrate on giving good consumer experience and thus woo the mid-segment buyer”. In terms of expectations from the fertile Indian market, he also added that, “Our expectation is very clear. We want to be one of the top three recognised brands in India. In terms of market share, we want to be one of the top five market share brands in India. We hope that each product will be a strong driver in their price-tier. We have a flagship product selling at Rs 49,999, then we create this fashion edition for a price of Rs 34,900. We then have the Desire series. Hopefully between Rs 10,000 to 30,000 we have a lot of models.”
India was an obvious choice for the company as the smartphone market here is one of the most thriving places in the world and gives immense profitable opportunities for smartphone manufacturers to try their hand at gaining their share here. But considering the fact that the company may be targeting the mid-segment users. Now the users in this segment expect better features backed by a strong brand name that does not drill a hole in their pocket.
Taking on this price-value dilemma, CFO Chian-Lin Chang said, “We have to ask, for every price-tier are you able to deliver the grand promise to the consumer? If we can, we do it. Desire 210, we introduced in India, we think it will fulfil that quality service. Below that we’ve been thinking, we’re not so sure. Between 10 and 30 is a big broad spectrum. Our Desire family is in this spectrum and we feel we have a lot to grow there. We are exploring below Rs 10,000, and if we go below that, we’re not sure we can do that without compromising on the consumer experience. First thing is not competition, it’s whether this is good consumer experience or not. Maybe a couple of months from now, we’ll figure a way to do that.”
Now that the phone has been launched in the market, it would be interesting to see the way in which customers respond to the new offerings and whether the users in the mid-segment find these devices worthy of their price tag. Stay tuned for detailed reviews and updates about these smartphones.
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