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Say hello to HTC's Hello Kitty-branded smartphone

2013/08/27 20:30:36

The invitation to the launch event. (Courtesy of HTC Corp.)

Taipei, Aug. 27 (CNA) Smartphone vendor HTC hopes to boost interest in its Butterfly S model by introducing a new spokesperson -- popular Japanese cartoon character Hello Kitty.

The Taoyuan-based smartphone maker indicated it would launch the 5-inch Hello Kitty-branded phone in a Tuesday email sent to the media which included a pink graphic featuring the cartoon cat wearing a green flight attendant suit -- the standard uniform of EVA Airways, Taiwan's second-largest carrier.

HTC confirmed that it will launch the phone along with EVA Air, which has run Hello Kitty-themed flights since October 2011 on several routes, primarily between Taoyuan and Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Guam.

While the email from HTC did not reveal information on how many of the limited-edition phones will be produced or how much they will sell for, the company announced a press conference on Sept. 2 that promises to offer more details.

The Butterfly S went on sale in Taiwan in late June at a price of NT$22,900 (US$765).

Local media began reporting on a rumored partnership between HTC and EVA Air days earlier that predicted 3,000 of the white Butterfly S phones will be launched with a specially designed Hello Kitty Logo.

Speculation was also fueled by a Monday announcement that Eva Air would continue cozying up to the cartoon cat with its sixth Hello Kitty jet -- the first Boeing 777-300ER featuring the character -- set to provide service to and from Los Angeles starting Sept. 18.

HTC has begun focusing heavily on marketing in a bid to offset a decline in sales momentum over the past two months caused by a slowdown of shipments of its flagship smartphone, the HTC One.

The company reported July sales of NT$15.7 billion, the second consecutive monthly decline, after posting revenues of NT$22.1 billion in June and NT$29 billion in May.

Although HTC is shifting its products to the mid-tier segment to boost volume, the company said it still plans to spend 70-75 percent of its marketing budget in promoting the HTC One and its variants, like the One mini.

(By Jeffrey Wu)