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Why has Peter Chou stepped down as HTC head honcho?

Peter Chou, the co-founder and (former) CEO of HTC has stepped down as head honcho, following a period of tumultuous fortunes for the Taiwanese manufacturer. So what went wrong, and what’s next for Mr Chou?

HTC was formed in just 1997, a joint venture between Peter Chou and Cher Wang. Under Chou’s guidance, HTC swiftly hit its peak, becoming one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world and overtaking Apple as the largest vendor in the US. But since then, the company’s stock has plumetted by a massive 85 per cent and annual revenues have fallen 60 per cent, leading to Chou being cast down from his throne.

Chou led the company during its humble beginnings as a manufacturer for (then) bigger names, such as T-Mobile, producing branded handsets. Under his watchful eye, HTC swiftly became one of the biggest and most recognisable faces on the smartphone block, releasing some pinnacle Android handsets such as the HTC Magic (which for some reason Recombu only gave 3 stars to, go figure) and HTC Desire (featuring a HUGE 3.7-inch screen, states our review).

Sadly, despite massively trimming its output and focusing on a handful of releases each year, including the epic One M7 and One M8 handsets, the company has suffered financially for the past three years – not helped by extravagant and weird ads. And despite HTC’s recent economic resurgence, which saw it actually post a profit in January, Peter Chou will make way for Cher Wang, a Berkeley educated economist, who takes over full leadership.

Meanwhile, Chou will move across to a more strategic role, dealing with “future product innovation”.

Much of the weight of HTC’s continued recovery will be pinned to the success of the upcoming HTC One M9. The new flagship phone, which is due to launch in Taiwan tomorrow, will boast a number of upgrades over the company’s previous flagship, including a 20.7-megapixel primary camera, Snapdragon 810 processor and version 7.0 of Sense UI.

Earlier in the week, however, reports indicated that the One M9 was suffering from thermal issues, purportedly relating to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 SoC, which were causing the device to heat up drastically.

HTC moved to assuage people’s concerns by pointing out the affected devices were running pre-release software, and they have since apparently fixed the issue, meaning that customers shouldn’t be affected. A bad start for the device will be the last thing HTC will have wanted though, as it looks to continue its recovery.

Add into the mix accusations that the One M9 is too little of an upgrade over last year’s One M8, especially given the rather steep £580 price point, and perhaps it’s a good time to try another strategy to keep the momentum going and prevent HTC’s finances suffering a double dip.


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