With the Mobile World Congress just around the corner, running February 24-27 in Barcelona, many smartphone manufacturers are beginning to provide details regarding new devices and services that will be shown off in full at the annual event. Hundreds of telecom-related companies will be at MWC this year but speculation has been building particularly in relation to HTC Corp.
The Taiwan-based smartphone manufacturer on Tuesday announced its new "HTC Advantage" program, which will provide certain guarantees to its customers, including free replacement of a screen broken within six months of purchase, and Android updates for two years. HTC, which has been struggling financially in recent months, hopes that the HTC Advantage program will improve the customer experience and provide new leverage in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.
Targeting Customer Satisfaction
Although some of its products like the flagship HTC One smartphone are popular, HTC only has a small share of the overall smartphone market, especially when compared with Samsung and Apple. HTC recently made it clear that in 2014 and 2015, it will begin to shift its focus back to less expensive devices. At the same time though, the Advantage program will be used to enhance the company's image with existing and potential customers.
Ed Kuhner, HTC's new vice president of customer experience, said the new Advantage program is about providing the things that any premium smartphone company should be offering.
"Keeping customers happy is something we believe a premium product maker should do," Kuhner said in a statement. "So we commit to continually listening to our customers and developing new, innovative solutions based on customer feedback and addressing their pain points over time -- that's the HTC Advantage."
Other executives at HTC Americas, including President Jason Mackenzie, echoed the points made by Kuhner. Mackenzie said that "carrying that commitment beyond the handset purchase" is something that is necessary if a company wants to ensure that customers remain happy with their purchases.
Kuhner, who has been with HTC since 2006, became VP of customer experience last November, reflecting the company's intent to become more customer-centric. In his new role, Kuhner, explains, he is "responsible for the customer ownership journey from the day that a consumer purchases an HTC product through the day they upgrade to their next HTC product." He points to the HTC Advantage program as key for the company "delivering the best possible customer experience along the way."
Most mainstream smartphone companies other than Apple will be exhibiting at Mobile World Congress, which means many interesting announcements could be coming next week. It is still unclear as to whether HTC will use the annual conference to show off any of its devices.
One of the few things that we do know about HTC's plans for MWC 2014 is that it will not be bringing the M8 (HTC One 2) along to the show. Instead, the company's new flagship device is expected to be launched at an event on March 25. Just like when HTC announced the One, the M8 will be unveiled at simultaneous events in London and New York.
When the HTC One was launched in 2013, it was well received and became one of HTC's most popular devices. While the HTC One did not have its first appearance at MWC that year, it still won the show's "Best Mobile Device" award. It will not be able to win any MWC awards this year, but according to HTC, the new flagship will be even better than its predecessor, and consumers will be able to find that out for themselves next month.