HTC has released unaudited results for its Q4 2014 and the Taiwanese mobile maker is reporting a slim net profit, of $14.7 million (NT$0.47 billion), following the slender $19.7 million (NT$0.6 billion) profit it reported for its Q3 back in October.
Unaudited revenue for HTC’s Q4 stands at $1.5 billion (NT$47.87 billion), up slightly on the $1.38 billion (NT$41.9 billion) in sales recorded for Q3 — which is, according to Bloomberg, its first sales growth since Q3 2011. The company is continuing to battle to keep its business in the black in an increasingly competitive smartphone market.
In October 2013 HTC reported its first quarterly operating loss, bleeding $102 million from its books. After which it slashed operating costs and pledged to push out more cheaper handsets in a bid to chase volume sales. That more mid tier focus appears to have paid off in Q4. The quarter’s revenue growth is a flicker of positivity in what have been multiple gloomy years for the company.
Indeed, the big Android-powered smartphone success stories of recent years have come out of China, with the likes of Xiaomi and Lenovo growing marketshare. Even Android kingpin OEM Samsung is having a tougher time as handset prices are squeezed afresh.
HTC has also careened after the selfie bandwagon, putting out phones designed to make it easier to snap the user’s face, such as the HTC Desire Eye and the One Mini 2. It even outed a periscope camera accessory for smartphones, called the Re, last year which is apparently able to snap underwater selfies. It far sounds too leftfield to garner serious momentum, but you have to admire HTC’s experimental chupatz under pressure. Perhaps the Re is an appropriate visual metaphor for its business.
In October Google also threw its long-time Android OEM a bone by getting it to build its Nexus 9 Android tablet — an unusual choice of maker for a slate, given HTC’s abortive attempts in tablets (it withdrew from making its own brand slates in 2012). It is of course in Mountain View’s interests to keep multiple Android OEMs in play, if possible — although Nexus devices are never huge volume sales generators. Google buying Motorola when it was struggling and subsequently selling it to a rising Lenovo shows some of that ecosystem tending strategy in play.
Still, it’s going to take more than the odd Nexus-shaped bone (not to mention odd-looking periscope accessory) to lift HTC’s fortunes onto a firmer footing. Keeping turning a profit and growing sales while keeping operating costs down is HTC’s difficult 2015 balancing act. Let’s hope they succeed; the smartphone space would certainly be a grayer place without them.