Taiwan's HTC has partnered with du to launch its flagship smartphone in the Emirates, as it looks to regain global market share lost to rivals such as Samsung.
HTC teams up with du for launch
HTC said it would sell the HTC One handset for between Dh2,300 (US$626.19) and Dh2,700 in the Middle East and Africa, and launch it in the UAE through the mobile operator du late next month.
"It's going to launch exclusively with du in the UAE," said Jon French, the vice president of HTC in the Middle East and Africa. The partnership on the HTC One handset will also include "marketing collaborations", he said.
The handset, which runs on the Android operating system, has new features including a "BlinkFeed", which provides a personalised stream of news articles and social updates on the phone's home screen.
It also features a TV remote control function, and Mr French said HTC was in talks with Middle East broadcasters to make it compatible with local networks.
HTC said it was in talks with other regional telecoms operators to launch the handset.
"We have a broad team that is discussing with every operator and retail partner … In Saudi Arabia we're launching with all the operators at the same time," Mr French said.
"We're going to launch it in the UAE in the last week of March, and it will be launching in other countries just one week later than that. In terms of the cost, it depends on the market. But as a rule of thumb, it will be anywhere between Dh2,300 and Dh2,700."
Mr French told The National earlier this month that HTC forecasts 50 per cent growth in its Middle East and Africa business this year. He declined to reveal actual revenue figures for the region.
HTC plans a "seven-figure" US dollar marketing push in the region, Mr French said yesterday. "It's roughly double the size of any marketing investment that we've made in the region to date," he said.
The firm is looking to the launch of the HTC One to help recover lost market share in the ultra-competitive mobile market. Its share of global mobile phone sales fell to 1.8 per cent of the market last year, down from 2.4 per cent in 2011, according to Gartner.
Matthew Reed, the principal analyst for the Middle East and Africa at Informa Telecoms & Media, based in Dubai, said this region generally follows the global trends in smartphone use. "It's Samsung that has been doing all the running; HTC has fallen by the wayside somewhat," he said.
Mr French acknowledged HTC's poor results last year. "You won't find anyone who was particularly happy with our performance last year," he said. "There are two ways we can get that back: Number one is a great product, and number two is … to improve on our marketing execution."