HTC ‘firing on all cylinders’ to reverse financial slump

Year-on-year profits down by 91.5 per cent in Q1, but Q2 expected to show improvements

HTC says it is now “firing on all cylinders” to help drive sales and boost its brand awareness.

The comments were made by HTC CEO Peter Chou (pictured), who was speaking as the manufacturer’s financial woes reached a new low, with profits dipping by 91.5 per cent year on year.

But Chou, who was addressing the media from the company’s headquarters in Taiwan, said recent efforts to improve its marketing strategy will be key to turning its fortunes around.

In January, Chou blamed HTC’s 90 per cent decline in quarterly profits on a “lack of marketing” of its brand and products.

The company appointed Benjamin Ho as its chief marketing officer to lead a project called ‘Marketing 2.0’, refocusing HTC’s efforts around holistic marketing and mass-market brand outreach.

Chou revealed in those three months, digital marketing spend increased by 250 per cent, and there was a 100 per cent increase in traditional media marketing, focused predominantly on driving sales of the HTC One.

The device is said to have broken all previous records on pre-orders, and UK and EMEA head Philip Blair suggested last month it is on track to become HTC’s fastest-selling handset of all time, branding it “the world’s best smartphone”.

Ho also took the decision to retire its ‘quietly brilliant’ slogan after a decade.

Strong momentum

Chou said: “We are going to run a very successful campaign on the marketing side and on the sales side. So we are firing on all cylinders.

“We expect this to be a very crucial quarter, coming out strong with momentum sustaining until the third quarter.

“Brand awareness is so important for us given a lot of suppliers are coming out strong and there is no differentiation in the market. That’s why we are extremely focused on getting better brand awareness. We are doing this through design innovation of the HTC One.

“And, of course, we also know that we have to greatly improve our go-tomarket approach in terms of marketing, in terms of channel. We have made great improvements in terms of HTC marketing and execution.

“This is probably the first time HTC has developed an HTC brand, and we are able to really integrate the brand, product and marketing execution all together at one time.”

HTC chief financial officer Chia-Lin Chang added: “We have improved a lot. We have a very good marketing strategy as well as execution strategy to support our HTC One launch. We are pretty confident this marketing campaign will propel us to the next level.

“It’s very important once you start launching the product, to have strong momentum coming out of the gate and to sustain that. So, we believe our spending has been optimal to support sales momentum.”


LoJack for Android finds your Samsung Galaxy S 4 even if thieves try to reset it

t’s great that smarpthone apps give users the ability to track down their phones that have been misplaced or stolen, but the effectiveness drops tremendously if a thief uninstalls the app or simply resets the phone. With LoJack for Android, which is embedded in the Samsung Galaxy S 4 firmware, tracking down a stolen phone will still be possible.

LoJack pitches itself as the ultimate solution to phone recovery. It’s not just as simple as visiting a website and hoping that the thief isn’t smart enough to disable the device; Lojack anticipates that will happen and works to retrieve it despite counterefforts. Like most phone tracking apps, Lojack works by using geolocation to determine a phone’s position and display it on a map. It goes a step further by being embedded in the device’s firmware and lying in wait until activated remotely. Even if someone resets the device, LoJack can trace its location and recover the phone because it is firmware persistent.

Absolute Software, the company that develops LoJack, has a team of Recovery Officers who track down the person holding a phone and then works with law enforcement agencies to retrieve the device. A representative of the company told me that its retrieval rate is over 75 percent of all devices, and if a phone or laptop cannot be located, LoJack will pay for a replacement. The service can also remotely lock or wipe devices, or display owner information on the screen.

LoJack costs $29.99 for an annual subscription. The service will soon be firmware-embedded in the Galaxy S 4, but it is also available for other Android devices. More information is

Flickr and Vimeo to be integrated in Apple iOS 7

Apple iOS 7 is rumored to be a dramatic departure from its current version, but a new report suggests that Apple is returning to a popular trick from previous versions by introducing new integration with two social media networks. According to a report published by 9to5Mac, Apple is set to introduce new connections with photo-sharing service Flickr and high-quality video sharing site Vimeo.

The report claims that Apple will follow a path similar to the one it took when it added Facebook and Twitter to iOS in order to enable faster sharing and single-tap sign-on. When someone snaps a photo with an iPhone, Flickr would be one of the options that appeared when that person tapped the search button. The same would occur when someone records a video.

In light of Flickr’s announcement yesterday that it will now supply 1 terabyte of storage to all users, the inclusion of Flickr into iOS could lead to great engagement on the website. The inclusion of Vimeo seems stranger because the Vimeo app is more about exploration of short films and high-quality videos. YouTube is already an option for sharing for smartphones, but it is more common to see videos recorded on a smartphone appear on YouTube than it is on Vimeo.

Apple is rumored to introduce wholesale changes in the iOS 7 user interface and experience, but the company has not finalized any plans for the new version of its operating system. 9to5Mac claims that its source says Apple plans to integrate Flickr and Vimeo into iOS 7, but the feature could be scrapped before iOS 7 is unveiled at WWDC next month.

Flickr gives all users 1 terabyte to store their photos

Photo-hosting and sharing service Flickr today unveiled a brand new design that lets users store and share full resolution photos. Storing large, high-quality photos can quickly eat up the 1 to 5 GB of data typically offered by free photo-sharing services, but Flickr has raised the bar to supply a terabyte of storage. The upgrade raises Flickr’s cap to 1,024 GB, which should make it incredibly difficult to run out of storage space. It would take nearly 437,000 8 megapixel photos to use a terabyte.

Yahoo debuted a completely revamped interface for sharing, browsing, and searching for photos when visiting on a desktop. The Android app has also been updated to reflect the full-screen approach on smartphones and tablets. It allows users to upload full-resolution photos. Flickr users will now be able to consolidate their entire photo collection and view images from anywhere, as well as share photos using the app.

Nokia Lumia 925 looks like the best Windows Phone yet

Windows Phone 8 has played host to some top-notch smartphones like the Nokia Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8X by HTC, but the new Nokia Lumia 925, which has a revamped PureView camera and a touch of metal, looks like it will soon become the best Windows Phone yet.

The Nokia Lumia 925 is the first Lumia to feature a metal frame with a polycarbonate back available in black, white, or gray. The 4.5-inch AMOLED display features a WXGA 1280×768 resolution, Gorilla Glass 2, sensitivity to be compatible with gloves, and enhancements for color display visibility in sunlight. The phone features a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor from Qualcomm Snapdragon, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. A 2,000 mAh battery, which supports Qi wireless charging, powers the phone.

Like it did with the Lumia 920, Nokia seeks to make the Lumia 925 distinguishable with its camera. The Lumia 925 has an 8.7-megapixel camera with dual LED flash. The camera features OIS to better stabilize images and reduce blur and processing software designed to improve images. Nokia will also introduce a Smart Camera that features additional shooting modes for burst shots, action photos, and anti-photo-bombing object removal.

Price and availability will vary by market. Nokia will sell the Lumia 925 in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, and China in June. The U.S. launch for T-Mobile will follow the European launch.

Pinterest for Android and IOS adds notifications, mentions, and new search

Pinterest has updated its apps for Android and iOS to add a handful of new features previously unavailable on mobile devices. Mobile users can now receive push notifications when someone comments on a pin or mentions them. Pinterest also added the ability to mention someone with the “@” sign and an auto-fill tool, and an enhanced search menu that shows history and auto-suggestions.

Moon’s water may have earthly origins

Water trapped deep within the moon’s interior came from the same source as water on Earth, a new study reveals. The research suggests that the moon seized a healthy supply of water from Earth when the satellite formed in the aftermath of a cataclysmic collision 4.5 billion years ago.

“This is an important result and a surprising result,” says David Stevenson, a planetary scientist at Caltech.

The findings come from the laboratory of Brown University geochemist Alberto Saal, who has spent the last five years trying to overturn the conventional wisdom that the moon was born dry. In the new study, published May 9 in Science, Saal and his team analyzed the water in two moon rocks returned by Apollo astronauts in the 1970s. The rocks probably formed from buried magma that was forced to the surface during volcanic eruptions early in the moon’s lifetime. They contain small globules of hardened lava embedded within crystals that prevented the water within from venting into space.

The team analyzed the rocks’ water by measuring the concentrations of hydrogen and deuterium, a form of hydrogen with an extra neutron. The ratio of these two isotopes reflects the origin of water within the solar system. The water on gas giant planets and most comets that formed in the outer solar system has a high deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio, while Earth’s water has a lower ratio.

To Saal’s surprise, the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio of his lunar samples is very similar to that of water on Earth and in meteorites, suggesting that water on Earth and the moon originated from the same meteorite impacts billions of years ago. “The reservoir of water for Earth and the moon is the same,” he says.

Not everyone agrees. Francis Albarede, a geochemist at École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France, notes that the rocks Saal analyzed are far richer in water and other volatile molecules than the thousands of other rocks returned by the Apollo astronauts. He says that there is no way to prove they are representative of the infant moon’s composition. “They are rogue samples,” Albarede says. “I don’t think they represent the interior of the moon, so I don’t think we can say anything about the moon’s water content.”

If Saal’s interpretation is valid, then it introduces a twist in the already-complicated quest to understand how the moon formed. The leading theory is that a giant object, perhaps the size of Mars, slammed into an infant Earth about 4.5 billion years ago. Simulations suggest that the heat from such an impact would have created an orbiting ring of molten rock around Earth that eventually coalesced into the moon.

The problem is that those extreme temperatures, estimated to be in excess of 5,000°  Celsius, should have vaporized any water that existed on Earth and the impacting object, leaving the newly formed moon bone dry. (Earth could have reacquired water later, through meteorite impacts, and held on to it due to the planet’s thick atmosphere.) But Saal’s new results have him convinced that the water fossilized in moon rocks came from Earth and somehow survived the moon-forming impact.