5/12/2011 10:05:00 AM
HTC plots to topple Apple
HTC is set to go head to head with arch rival Apple as it considers launching a flagship retail store in the UK.
Sources said the manufacturer is weighing up the move after opening three HTC stores in Prague, Copenhagen and Milan in a bid to challenge Apple’s dominance in own brand mobile manufacturer retail.
The move into HTC branded stores would signal an intensified drive by HTC into the retail space, with an estate of flagship shops designed to showcase its products and deepen its brand penetration.
HTC’s latest opening in Milan is planned for this week. The company is expecting strong interest after its store in Denmark saw long queues forming on its opening day. The Copenhagen store opened in March this year, just six months after the Prague store was launched. All three stores sport sleek minimalist interiors in HTC’s brand colours.
Industry sources claimed that HTC has been exploring new retail opportunities for some time. One source said HTC had approached some distributors with the idea of pop-up stores. Jon French, HTC’s VP of sales and operations for HTC EMEA, denied there were any plans for pop-up shops, insisting HTC’s UK focus was primarily on building on the ‘phenomenal growth we has seen over the past 18 months’.
Retail analyst Sam Hart of Charles Stanley said: ‘This is a model that has been pursued very successfully by the likes of Apple and although the power of the Apple brand is significantly greater than HTC at the moment, HTC is obviously building up a very strong reputation and there is no reason to believe that HTC couldn’t potentially be very successful in this arena, particularly as it expands its portfolio into tablets.’
Asked if a UK store was in the pipeline, French told Mobile: ‘We are not saying never to an HTC store in the UK. We have recently opened one in Copenhagen, which is a perfect market to experiment in to see if our brand translates into the retail environment.’
He said HTC ‘has no plans right now’ for an HTC shop in the UK, but added: ‘It is something we are not afraid of – to test the brand in the retail environment.’ He said an HTC branded store was a ‘natural extension’ of HTC’s national roadshow, which is currently touring the UK.