New unit will focus on smart watches, other emerging products

Taiwanese Android smartphone manufacturer HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) continues to tread water as it struggles to revamp its leadership team.  HTC's flagship 1080p Android smartphone, the HTC One, generally beat out Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:A005930) Galaxy S IV in reviews, but has not yet revived HTC's financials.

Following an 83 percent slump in profit for the last quarter, chief executive Peter Chou decided to create a new position and shuffle a successful executive into another crucial role.

In the memo -- obtained by The Wall Street Journal -- Mr. Chou writes:

Effective immediately, in addition to his current duties in supporting me with global corporate strategy, [President of Global Sales] Jason Mackenzie will lead HTC America.  [President of North America] Mike Woodward will lead Emerging Devices, a newly established business unit that will focus on innovative new HTC products and global distribution strategies.

Mr. Mackenzie had previously served as HTC's president of Americas, before moving to head global sales strategy.  In his original role, Mr. Mackenzie guided HTC to briefly seize the top spot in U.S. smartphone sales.  But in his new role he failed to gain signficant traction globally, while U.S. sales slipped as well.  Thus it is perhaps not surprising to see his return to his original spot where he saw the most success.

Jason MackenzieNew/old HTC Americas President Jason Mackenzie [Image Source: Android and Me]

Mr. Woodward was a capture from U.S. wireless carrier AT&T, Inc. (T).  At AT&T he was VP of the carrier's consumer wireless device and accessory portfolio. 

His new position will particularly be focused on exploring new form factors, such as "smart watches".  HTC missed the tablet boom and is determined not to miss out on what may be the next big thing -- wearable electronics.

HTC's new unit will reportedly explore "smart watch" products. [Image Source: MyModernMet]

Most of HTC's rivals already have wearable electronics projects.  Samsung, Apple, Inc. (AAPL), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Dell, Inc. (DELL), and Google Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Motorola Mobility all are rumored to have upcoming smart watch offerings in the pipeline.  Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) is the only major OEM to currently offer a smart watch.

In recent months HTC has lost a significant chunk of its leadership team amid executive pay cuts -- COO Matthew Costello, Chief Product Officer Kouji Kodera, HTC's VP of global communications Jason Gordon, and President of South Asia Operations Lennard Hoornick.

One key gain has been Chief Marketing Officer Benjamin Ho, who has adopted a more aggressive marketing strategy to compete with Apple and Samsung.  Strong sales of the One are evidence this approach may be slowly starting to work.  And Mr. Chou has some additional evidence to that end, reporting, "Among the youth segment, brand awareness is 87%, with 67% of this segment considering HTC a brand 'on the up.'"

HTC will look to continue this positive momentum with its reorganized leadership unit.

Source: WSJ

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