HTC is putting Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 platform at the heart of its smartphone strategy as it fights to claw back marketshare in the UK.
HTC UK and Ireland executive director Phil Roberson told Mobile it is launching a two-pronged attack on the smartphone market from Q4, with its forthcoming Windows Phone 8 smartphones, the 8X and 8S, taking an equally important role as its Android devices, with the new One X+ announced this week. These three ‘breakthrough’ devices will form the vanguard of this assault. Roberson said: ‘Both platforms are of equal importance to us. We are a two-platform stable and we want to make sure we can offer the very best to consumers on these two different platforms.’
The 8X and 8S will be supported by a major above-the-line advertising campaign jointly funded by Microsoft and HTC. Roberson said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s recent description of the HTC 8X as ‘the hero’ Windows Phone 8 smartphone illustrated the level of Microsoft’s support. ‘The fact our phone is branded “The Windows Phone 8X by HTC” says it all,’ he said. ‘This is a clear statement that our relationship with Microsoft is as strong as ever. We are working closely with them to really bring the Windows Phone 8 platform to life in a way no other manufacturer has done before.’
The move marks a significant shift in HTC’s smartphone strategy. HTC has pinned its colours to the Android mast over the past two years, letting its Windows smartphones take a backseat. However, as HTC continues to lose ground to Samsung on the Android front, analysts said the manufacturer is turning to Microsoft’s financial muscle and Windows platform to help it fight back. CCS Insight analyst Digantam Gurung said: ‘These new devices are not an attempt to de-emphasise HTC’s focus on Android, but rather to add more diversity to the HTC portfolio, particularly given the growing competitive pressure with Android.’
Roberson said all channels had responded enthusiastically to HTC’s Windows Phone 8 devices. ‘Every operator has listed them. All our independent consumer and b2b partners are excited by them. No other manufacturer has managed to get so much distribution on a Windows phone before.’ He added that HTC’s flagship Android smartphone, the HTC One X+, had also won substantial support from operators and retailers.