Lack of flagship unveiling casts gloom over HTC

TAIPEI - HTC is unlikely to unveil its "hero device" in this year's Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA), a prominent industrial trade show, while the company's rivals, including Samsung, Sony, and LG, are poised to introduce a slew of highly anticipated flagship products.

According to reports and to the disappointment of the markets, instead of a flagship product, the company is likely to announce two medium- to low-end models, Bluetooth-enabled speakers accessories, and blue variants of its One and One Mini handsets released earlier this year.

Following these reports, shares in the company yesterday tumbled 7 per cent, losing NT$10 (S$0.43) and closed at the intraday low of NT$137.5 per share. Trading volume exceeded 24 million shares. The company's share price receded below all short-term technical indicators, with sell orders for over 5 million HTC shares still awaiting processing at the closing bell of yesterday's session.

In contrast, Samsung, the world's leading smartphone maker by market share, is poised to unveil its Galaxy Note 3, the first iteration of which is credited with creating a market niche in 2011 for handsets equipped with touch displays larger than 5 inches.

Sony yesterday revealed the specifications of its 5-inch Xperia Z1 handset in Berlin, with the product's appealing design and hearty capabilities impressing spectators. The handset features a 20.7-megapixel Exmor RS rear camera.

LG unveiled an 8.3-inch G Pad tablet computer, featuring a remarkably small bezel for a unit featuring a large screen.

HTC is also facing stiff competition from Apple, whose latest iPhones are confirmed to be unveiled on Sept. 10.

Market insiders had been expecting HTC to unveil its 5.9-inch One Max handset at the IFA. However, the company elected to release the product at a later date, likely toward the end of the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter.

HTC is also beleaguered by the possibility that Microsoft may distance itself from collaborating with the handset maker in developing products based on the Windows Phone 8 operating system, in addition to a recent case of industrial espionage which may have compromised the company's products releases in the next two to three years.