Taipei, Aug. 12 (CNA) Taiwan-based HTC Corp. said Monday that it will only launch a limited number of mid-range and flagship smartphones this year as the company continues to streamline its product portfolio.
Ben Ho, HTC's chief marketing officer, said the company plans to unveil two to three mid-tier Desire-branded phones in the third and fourth quarters, along with a variant of its flagship One series in the fourth quarter.
"We had launched too many products in the past, so we have become more cautious this year," he said at a media briefing called to announce HTC's new celebrity endorsement and marketing campaign.
The company plans to spend 70-75 percent of its marketing budget on promoting the HTC One series this year, he said, noting that its mid-range phones will be promoted mainly through HTC's partnerships with telecom operators.
Earlier in the day, HTC announced that it has signed a two-year marketing campaign contract with movie star Robert Downey Jr., best known in Taiwan for his starring role in "The Avengers" and "Iron Man."
Five or six online videos starring Downey are due Aug. 15, Ho said, with similar commercials set for broadcast in key markets like the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, China, Australia and Taiwan.
The videos play on possible backronyms of the company name, transforming the letters HTC into phrases like "Humongous Tinfoil Catamaran," "Hipster Troll Carwash" and "Hold This Cat," among others.
While the ad campaign is expected to provide a boost, HTC will be facing no small amount of pressure to boost sinking profits as other handset makers prepare to tap into the mid-range smartphone market.
HTC reinforced such concerns on July 30, when it forecast a probably loss for the third quarter of the year because of high inventory in the channel, higher cost structure and a lack of economy of scale.
Analysts have also pointed out that its shrinking shipment scale will lead to an inferior cost structure, while its late start on next year's flagship products could mean potential delays.
Shares in HTC closed down 0.63 percent at NT$158 on Monday, before the company had announced the new marketing campaigns. The benchmark Taiwan Stock Exchange index ended 0.6 percent higher.
(By Jeffrey Wu)