HTC 10 launched as firm looks to revive struggling smartphone fortunes


Taiwanese electronics firm HTC has launched its latest flagship smartphone, the HTC 10, as it looks to revive its struggling device sales amid intense competition.

Some of the key specs include:

  • 5.2 inch quad high-definition display
  • Runs Google's Android Marshmallow
  • Comes in a 32GB or 64Gb variation
  • A 12 megapixel main camera with 4K video recording
  • Battery able to charge up to 50 percent in 30 minutes

The HTC 10 will be available from April 2016 in four colors: carbon grey, glacier silver, topaz gold and camellia red, according to the company.

But the Taiwanese firm is launching its latest product amid a slowing smartphone market, increased competition, and struggles with its own brand.

HTC posted a 3.4 billion new Taiwan dollar ($98.9 million) net loss in the fourth quarter of 2015 due to slowing smartphone sales. HTC's devices used to have popular appeal but have lost ground significantly to the likes of Apple and Samsung, whose new S7 series has proved popular.

"Earlier when HTC was successful and growing it was ahead on the product design curve but was too dependent on American and European carriers on marketing and sales support to drive the products," Neil Shah, analyst at Counterpoint Research, told CNBC by email.

"Since struggling in a few of the key "halo" markets like (the) U.S., U.K., it has never been able to recover which made HTC operationally weak from profits as well as from a scale perspective."

At the same time, the company has faced a huge number of competitors, particularly from China, with the likes of Xiaomi and Huawei growing fast.

"Lower cost devices now provide a good experience and the gap between a 'low cost' device maker and a 'premier' one is significantly lower," Daniel Gleeson, senior mobile analyst at IHS, told CNBC by email.

VR bet

As such, HTC has been looking to new areas to drive growth with a big focus on virtual reality (VR). The company has released its Vive VR headset. And HTC is not the only device maker struggling in the tough market with the likes of Sony and LG facing similar issues.

Analysts said that HTC will need to get the price low enough to make it attractive as it doesn't have the "brand equity" to charge a premium like Apple and Samsung. And Shah added that the firm will need to ship at least 10 to 12 million units of the flagship HTC 10 "to revive its fortunes by registering healthy revenue and profit growth".

Gleeson sees the HTC 10 as more of a brand-building exercise as the company bets big on new areas like VR.

"HTC simply doesn't have the technology to find a specialized niche and cannot compete on cost with its competitors. Instead the company needs it virtual reality headset, the Vive, to save the company. HTC is in a period of transition and the HTC 10's main role is to maintain and build the brand," Gleeson said.