Dopod to assume HTC name

Dopod will assume the name of High Tech Computer in July, following Thursday's announcement that the latter will acquire nine Dopod subsidiaries in Asia.
Written by Damian Koh, Contributor on

Come July, Dopod's newly-acquired entities in Asia will take on the name of its new parent company High Tech Computer (HTC).

This move will take place in July, HTC CEO and President Peter Chou told ZDNet Asia's sister site CNET Asia. The revelation follows the announcement Thursday that High Tech Computer will be acquiring nine of Dopod International's subsidiaries in the region, in a bid to strengthen its foothold in Asia. The Taiwan-listed company in June signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire over 50 percent of Dopod's shares.

"The acquisition of Dopod International proved the determination of investing in own-brand business as well as its channel expansion," Ann Liang, principal analyst for mobile devices and consumer services at Gartner Dataquest Research, told CNET Asia in an e-mail.

The bigger challenge, as Bryan Ma, IDC's director for Asia-Pacific personal systems research, pointed out, is to get the brand recognized in the mass market. However, the company already has some scale that it can leverage from its European operations, Ma said.

Liang added that HTC will remain the leader in the Windows Mobile space even though there are more Asian makers joining the fray, with competitors such as AsusTEK, Quanta and Hewlett-Packard, trying to gain market share with lower prices.

As an ODM (original design manufacturer) for HP and Palm, HTC also manufactures handhelds for Dopod and other operator-branded devices. Following this announcement, Chou expects to see an increase in the number of HTC-branded products this year.

According to an industry source, consumers can look forward to the first HTC-branded handheld in early June. When asked if there would be any future products or services under the Dopod branding, Chou did not deny such a possibility, though he said most handhelds will bear HTC's marquee. HTC will also continue to provide service and support for all existing Dopod devices.

In Asia, excluding Japan, IDC figures reveal that Windows Mobile users represent 8.5 percent of the smart handheld devices, which include standalone PDAs, PDA-phones and smart phones, in 2006. The Symbian platform has a stronger showing of 72 percent, with the operating systems such as Linux, BlackBerry and Palm taking up the rest of the pie.

HTC currently has 4,904 employees worldwide with 1,245 of them involved in research and development, as of May 2007. The company plans to grow R&D investment from US$89 million in 2006 to over US$100 million this year and, at the same time increase, its R&D workforce to more than 1,500 employees from 1,367 in the previous year.

"Microsoft's partnership with HTC will play an important role in our continued growth, and we look forward to working together with HTC to launch innovative smart phones powered by new Windows Mobile 6 operating system across Asia-Pacific and Japan," said Jason Lim, Microsoft's regional director for Asia-Pacific and Japan, mobile communications business.

O2 has declined to comment on the acquisition, while HP and Palm could not be contacted at the time of writing.

Damina Koh of CNET Asia reported from Singapore. John Chan from CNET Asia contributed to this report.

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