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HTC Names New Marketing Chief Amid Smartphone Share Slide

Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- HTC Corp. hired a new chief marketing officer as it seeks to reverse declines in smartphone share that have pushed revenue down for four straight quarters.

Benjamin Ho, head of marketing at Taipei-based phone operator Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. will take up the HTC post in January while current sales and marketing president Jason MacKenzie will focus on strategy, the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company said in a statement today. Ho, who joined Far EasTone in 2003, previously held the top marketing role at Motorola Asia Pacific Ltd. and worked at Dentsu Inc. and Omnicom Group Inc.’s BBDO.

Asia’s second-largest smartphone maker suffered a 24 percent decline in brand value in the past year amid stronger competition from Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc., according to marketing consultants Interbrand. HTC’s revenue and share of the global market both dropped by around half over the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Ho’s first assignment will be to lead a project, dubbed internally as Marketing 2.0, refocusing HTC’s efforts around holistic marketing and mass-market brand outreach,” the company said.

HTC plans to maintain spending on sales and marketing to support new product releases this quarter and build its brand, despite forecasting its lowest revenue in almost three years, Chief Financial Officer Chang Chialin said on an investor conference call last month. The lower sales amid continued marketing will push its operating margin to 1 percent, he said.

Sliding Share

MacKenzie, who joined HTC in 2005 and became its head of North and Latin America in 2007, was appointed to the new role of president for global sales and marketing in July last year. He handed the North America role to Mike Woodward, a former executive of AT&T Inc., in July this year.

HTC’s global smartphone share has more than halved since MacKenzie took on the sales and marketing role, dropping to 4.6 percent in the third quarter of this year, from 10.3 percent a year earlier while Samsung and Apple both climbed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries.

Sales this quarter will be about NT$60 billion ($2.1 billion) after dropping 48 percent to NT$70.2 billion in the third-quarter, its fourth consecutive decline, it said Oct. 26.

Founded in 1997, HTC began as a contract electronics maker before releasing its own brand of smartphones. It was the first company to release models with Google Inc.’s Android and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows systems.

Earlier this month it signed a deal with Apple that ends the two companies’ global lawsuits after the iPhone maker accused the Taiwanese of copying its technology. The maker of One and Desire handsets retaliated with its own lawsuits. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

HTC’s brand value dropped 24 percent to $2.75 billion this year after more than doubling last year to $3.6 billion, according to Interbrand. Apple’s brand value is $76.6 billion and Samsung’s is $32.9 billion, the consultancy said.

HTC shares have lost 48 percent this year, closing at NT$256 today in Taipei before the announcement, following a 42 percent decline last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Culpan in Taipei at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at

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