HTC is planning its biggest ever
marketing spend to promote its latest range of handsets due out on 1 April, Jon
French, HTC’s executive director UK & Ireland, told Mobile.
The manufacturer is launching four
handsets at the same time: the HTC Legend exclusively with Vodafone; the HTC
Desire, which will be available from all operators, retailers and dealers; the
Windows HTC HD Mini, which will also be widely available; and the HTC Smart, an
entry level smartphone, exclusively with O2.
The HTC Desire will take a large
chunk of the marketing spend. ‘We will take a very bold stance in the market,
particularly with the Desire,’ said French. ‘We are very confident about it and
we believe it can beat anything else out there.’
HTC has a reputation for producing
good handsets, but brand awareness in the UK
is behind the likes of Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG and Apple in the UK. As a lesser
known brand it has got to work harder to catch up with more established
manufacturers to get retailers behind the products.
‘We’ve got to get the product into
people’s hands,’ said French. ‘We have very loyal customers who we must use to
promote the phones. We will also be setting up live devices in retail stores.
We want to train retail staff about what the phones can do.
‘We want salespeople to develop a personal story about how the phone has done something for
them. They can then use that personal story with customers as a way of
demonstrating what it can do. We want to get retailers to develop a personal
enthusiasm for the devices.’
French added that HTC was happy to
court comparisons with rival devices and go head to head with other products.
When it comes to the Legend, French
said HTC would be building on the heritage of the Hero in terms of the way
users can personalise the device.
‘You can add and take away widgets
with ease and without any compromise on functionality. We are pushing the
emotional side with the Legend, making it something special, a desirable
handset for people who want something different. We will be working with
Vodafone to get this message across. It’s all about the look and feel; it’s the
perception of it that will sell it to customers,’ said French.
The Desire will be sold on the speed
of its 1GHz Snapdragon processor and its large 3.7-inch AMOLED WVGA display screen
for enhanced picture and video viewing, along with the latest version of HTC
Sense user interface, which is on all the devices.
The HD Mini continues HTC
relationship with Microsoft and builds on the success of the HTC HD 2 in a more
compact version. The phone is being marketed on the basis of its high level of
craftsmanship and quality design.
The HTC Smart, which is exclusive to
O2, is targeting what French described as a ‘new segment of the market’, namely
young or cost conscious people moving up to their first smartphone.
The handset runs on Qualcomm’s Brew
platform, which is considerably cheaper than Android. ‘This has allowed us to
reduce the price, but it still has our Sense UI on top and it can do anything
the Legend or Desire does,’ said French. ‘We should not patronise people in
this value segment by saying you can’t have this or that feature – they can
with this phone.’
French added that the quality of
browsing on the smart would be sticky for O2’s brand in that when this segment
moved up to a higher end device they may well stick with O2 if they’ve had a
good user experience with the Smart.