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HTC says that marketing, not its declining financial position, is its biggest challenge

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HTC One (stock image)
HTC One (stock image)

There's no doubt that HTC is in a precarious financial position, with the company confirming that it will report its first ever quarterly loss, and it looks like the company wants to focus on its marketing story rather than the financial challenges it faces. Earlier today, Bloomberg News posted an interview with HTC's chairwoman, Cher Wang, in which she said that it was the company's "biggest challenge is these [next] two months." Out of context, and given the news HTC announced last week, it's easy to think she was talking about challenges from a financial standpoint, but HTC quickly came out and clarified her position in a statement:

In a Bloomberg TV interview today, Cher Wang, the chairman of HTC, was not referring to the company facing financial challenges this quarter. Instead, she was referring to living up to the challenge of innovative marketing in Q4 of 2013. She puts direct communications with consumer at the center of its overall business strategy.

The best product and cutting-edge technology are still the most valuable assets to the company. Our biggest need in the forthcoming quarters will be embarking on alternative marketing thinking. HTC is in a time of change, taking necessary innovative steps on marketing to create a resurgence of the HTC brand.

While the statement certainly feels a bit like a reaction to calm rattled investors, Wang's response to Bloomberg TV matches up with HTC's statement. Wang was responding to a question asking about the most challenging aspect of the next 24 to 36 months, and she said that the next two would be the company's biggest challenge in terms of marketing and communicating with customers. "Our communication does have a problem but we are improving on that," Wang said. "It's a gap between our new products coming out and we are improving our innovation and our marketing." Saying that HTC's biggest challenge is marketing could be downplaying the dramatic financial downturn the company has experienced over the past two years. That said, it's a familiar refrain — HTC CEO Peter Chou made similar comments earlier this year at the launch of the HTC One.

Wang touched on HTC's latest example of "alternative marketing thinking" — the somewhat controversial hire of Robert Downey Jr. as its new ad spokesman. She told Bloomberg News that "people like him because people see him as a change maker." Of course, it's too early to measure whether the presence of one of Hollywood's top leading men will be enough to turn HTC's fortunes around and increase its dwindling marketshare, but that's the bet the company is making going into the fourth quarter as it tries to turn things around. Beyond Downey Jr., the next quarter might also bring the long-rumored HTC One Max — the company's answer to Samsung's Galaxy Note series.