Taiwan’s (HTC) is the world’s fourth largest smart phone maker after Nokia, Apple and RIM. Founded in 1997, HTC grew its business as one of the leading providers of operator-branded devices. In June 2006, it launched smart phones under its own brand and quickly gained market share from other key players. It now aims to become one of the world’s top three smart phone makers by 2013. Little known to Indian consumers two years ago when it entered this market, the brand today has a strong presence in the Rs 10,000-plus category. The growth driver for the brand has been its customer-centric focus. People want phones that meet their individual needs and are easy to use. They assert their phones are all about the user.
HTC has recently repositioned the brand. Their tagline now reads “quietly brilliant” instead of the earlier “smart mobility”.
HTC entered the smart phone market through partnerships with Microsoft and key mobile operators worldwide (it manufactured operator-branded devices). In June 2006, it rolled out devices under its own brand with the global positioning “smart mobility”. In 2009, the brand decided to move on to a new user interface which is all about the customer — we called it YOU. The YOU campaign was launched with the tagline “You don’t need to get a phone. You need a phone that gets you”. “Quietly brilliant” is the new brand positioning which has been created recently by FigTree, a London-based creative agency. The campaign uses the visual language of doodles to explain the quietly-brilliant features and benefits of the devices in a simple way. It echoes the design expertise of HTC.
The customer is the focus of the new positioning and it also stands for simplicity and a number of surprises. It turns down the myth that smart phones are difficult to use. You can easily customize the phone and make the whole experience interesting. Also, it is about doing things quietly. They are not saying we’re giving you this function or that tool — play with the device and you’ll discover hidden surprises. There are little things that the user experiences after using the device. For instance, if you get a call while you are in a meeting, all you need to do is flip the phone and it will automatically turn silent.
Their interface called Sense can generate everything about a person at one place. For instance, when you are talking to a person, you will get to see his emails, SMSes, missed calls and even Facebook updates on the screen. It’s all so simple — you don’t need to go to the Facebook site to check if someone has written a post on your wall. So YOU is all about the user.
You log on to the website and give your feedback. They also try to talk to the customer through campaigns. Then they have started opening HTC care centers across the country where we constantly receive customer feedback. Currently, there are four authorized care centers in Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Pune. There is one more coming up in Mumbai.
You can download upgrades on the operating system. You get updates on new launches. Their service team stays in touch with them over emails. They have about 100,000 customers on the website — that’s a decent number. But there are also many who don’t register on the site.
RIM’s Blackberry and Apple’s iPhone are quite popular. HTC touches a much wider audience with devices based on two operating systems — Microsoft Windows and Google’s Android. A customer with a budget of Rs. 10,000 will not go for a Rs 30,000 device. A customer for an Android-based device will not be the customer for a Windows device. The constant addition of innovation is something that competition has not yet been able to catch up with. While ATC offers more than what the user needs and what the industry offers, they don’t talk much about the hardware part. Our emphasis is on the user interface.
The best way to compare smart phones would be to take three handsets in the market and reach a conclusion. What do you expect in a smart phone? It should be easy to operate; the touch screen should never hang and so on. The customer has the final word.