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HTC squeezed in China smartphone market: analyst

2012/05/16 19:37:51

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) Taiwan smartphone maker HTC Corp. will face difficulties in expanding its market share in China in face of steep competition from premium brands and Chinese handset makers, an analyst with research firm IHS iSuppli said Wednesday.

"I think it's pretty hard for HTC, as it still prefers offering 'hero products' in the high-end segment," said Kevin Wang, director of IHS's China research division, at the IHS Focus Forum in Taipei.

"The company will feel pressured when the Samsung Galaxy S III and iPhone 5 launch in China in the future, and it will also face much pressure in price competition against cheaper models from local brands such as Huawei," he said.

HTC used to be popular in China because of its early entrance to the market and better cost-effectiveness of its products, but the company's new models may lose traction among consumers as other handset makers catch up with its software edge, Wang added.

"Even fake phone manufacturers joke that they copy fewer and fewer HTC phones," he said.

According to IHS's data, smartphone shipments in China will double to 132 million units this year from 66 million units last year, while the global smartphone market will grow 39 percent year-on-year to 675 million units in 2012.

Meanwhile, iPhone sales in China are expected to slow down this year, growing by 40 to 50 percent from last year's 10 million units, the data showed.

Besides Apple's iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S II, smartphones priced less than 1,000 Chinese yuan (US$158) from Chinese brands such as ZTE Corp., Lenovo Group and Huawei Technologies Co. have greatly stimulated the demand of smartphones in China, the research firm said.

Smartphone shipments from Chinese companies are forecast to reach 148 million units this year, more than double the 55.5 million units shipped last year, it added.

"China and other emerging countries will be the fastest growing smartphone markets in the coming five years," Wang noted.

"Chinese smartphone companies will not only focus on low-end smartphones, but also the high-end smartphone market to compete with Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.," he said.

(By Jeffrey Wu)