HTC Poised to Grow as Smartphone Market Expands

T-Mobile’s MyTouch 3G commercials may be all over the TV and internet these days, but most consumers viewing these commercials are probably not aware that HTC is actually the device’s manufacturer.  HTC has long been making innovative handsets that, more often than not in the US, are branded by the wireless carrier at which they are available.  In fact, HTC provided the hardware behind the first two Android-capable phones in the US: the T-Mobile G1 and the aforementioned MyTouch 3G.

However throughout 2009, HTC has not only offered more phones at the major carriers under its own brand but has also refocused its website to position HTC as a leading brand offering user-friendly smartphones that focus on the individual’s needs, both business and personal. This is in contrast to its previous image as a niche brand appealing to technology enthusiasts and heavy business users.  HTC has also begun running commercials aimed squarely at capturing consumers who crave always-on communication devices.

This consumer focus appears to be paying off in terms of driving traffic to HTC’s site, as the number of visitors to HTC.com has grown significantly in recent months.

Monthly Unique Visitors to HTC and Samsung US Mobile Phones Sections

  • In September of 2009, over 850,000 consumers visited HTC.com, up 78% since January.  The MyTouch 3G launch in July drove much of this interest, but a wide variety of product launches across all carriers coincide with this traffic increase.
  • Traffic to HTC.com now matches or exceeds some of the largest handset manufacturers, like Samsung, which typically sees traffic in the 800K — 1 million range each month (to the US mobile phone portion of the site only).

While HTC’s growth is certainly an important step towards achieving widespread consumer awareness, HTC interest at the wireless carrier websites still lags the competition.

HTC and Samsung's share of interest among the big four wireless carriers

  • In Q3, 4% of all handset researchers at the big four US wireless carriers researched an HTC device on average each week.  This represented a 32% increase over Q2 interest.
  • As a comparison, Samsung captured 21% of carrier handset research in Q3, 2nd highest among major handset manufacturers (LG ranked first with 24% interest).
  • While interest in HTC was relatively low, it matched the amount of handsets it has available at the major carriers — 4% of all handsets for sale in Q3 were HTC devices.

While HTC’s share of interest at the carriers is relatively small, HTC may be positioning itself for major gains as consumer interest in smartphones continues to grow.  HTC exclusively manufactures smartphones running Windows Mobile or Google’s Android OS, and carriers are increasingly trying to sell smartphones to gain additional revenue from monthly data plans.  Given the combination of growing consumer interest in the HTC brand and the carriers’ agenda to drive smartphone purchases, HTC should be able to continue to expand its brand presence.