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HTC has been dropped from Taiwan’s TSWE 50 index, following a 66% slide in its share price this year.

The collapse in HTC’s share price means it is not big enough to be included in Taiwan’s TWSE 50 Index.

In June, the smartphone maker said Q2 2015 revenues had halved from the same period last year, resulting in an operating loss of 5.1 billion Taiwanese dollars ($155 million).

Last month, HTC said it would cut 15% of its global workforce.

HTC’s share price is now less than the amount of cash it holds on deposit, which means investors consider the rest of the company to be, in theory, worthless.

Dropping out of the TWSE 50 index may push the share price even lower, as foreign investors are reluctant to hold shares not listed on the main Taiwan index.

HTC was founded in the 1990s and started out manufacturing notebook computers and some of the first touch handheld devices. It also made the world’s first Android smartphone.

Photo HTC

Photo HTC

It has been outgunned at the top end of the smart phone market by Apple, Samsung and LG.

Many blame the outcome on the massive advertising budgets of the market leaders. Samsung alone spent over $60 million on marketing the launch of its new Galaxy S6 smart phone, roughly the same as HTC’s entire annual marketing budget.

Meanwhile, Chinese makers such as Xiaomi and Lenovo have squeezed it at the cheaper end.

Analysts complain that HTC has not innovated enough, claiming for instance that its new HTC One M9 smart phone is almost identical to its former M8.

However, HTC has not been slow to launch new products. It has a fitness tracker called the Grip and recently launched active earphones.

Hours before the Taiwanese stock exchange announced HTC’s ejection from the TWSE 50, the company launched the latest of its Desire smartphone range, the 728, in China.

HTC is also attracting attention with the launch of its virtual reality headset Vive at the end of the year. The company says more than 1,000 developers are working with it on content creation for gaming, entertainment and education apps.

Cher Wang, chairwoman and chief executive of HTC, said: “While the current market climate is challenging, I firmly believe the measures we are putting in place to streamline our operations, improve efficiency and focus, and increase our momentum will start to show results over the coming quarters.”

While HTC is out of the TSWE 50, it will be listed in the smaller Mid-Cap 100 Index, which contains 100 companies, but only 20% of the value of the whole market.

Sony has revealed a new edition of its virtual reality helmet Morpheus, which it says it plans to put on sale in 2016.

The new edition of Project Morpheus now features an OLED display, rather than an LCD one, letting it show more vibrant colors. That brings it in line with Facebook’s rival Oculus Rift.

The new virtual reality (VR) helmet is also capable of showing graphics at 120 frames per second (fps).

That beats the figure given by HTC for its recently unveiled Vive VR headset.

The frame rate is important as the higher the number, the smoother moving objects appear. It also reduces the risk of nausea.

HTC said on March 1 that its helmet provided a refresh rate of 90fps.

Oculus has not confirmed its specifications, but recent demonstrations of the recent Crescent Bay version of its kit have also been reported to run at 90fps.

Sony’s announcement is a surprise, because until now, the PlayStation console – which Morpheus depends on to play games – had not been thought to be able to render games at this rate.

However, speaking at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, PlayStation executive Shuhei Yoshida revealed that a software update would allow the machine to create an “in-between frame” to double its current maximum of 60fps.Sony Project Morpheus PS4

“Higher frame rates are definitely important because they are going to translate into higher responsiveness of the gaming environment,” explained Brian Blau, an analyst at the Gartner tech consultancy who previously worked in the virtual reality industry.

“That’s going to mean people who are wearing the device aren’t going to feel as sick. 120fps approaches the range where you don’t notice the changes in the graphics – they will be smooth and fluid.”

Other details revealed at GDC include:

  • Morpheus now has a 0.018 second latency rate – the gap in time between the user moving their head and the headset responding. It was previously 0.04 seconds. Shuhei Yoshida suggested this meant the lag had now become imperceptible
  • The headset’s screen is now 5.7in – up from 5in before – and provides a 100-degree field of view, which should cover most of what the user sees
  • The number of LEDs used to track head movement has been increased from six to nine. Sony says this will improve the stability of the 360-degree tracking provided by its separate PS4 camera
  • A quick-release button has been added to make it easier for users to remove the headset

The screen resolution remains at 1080p high definition, providing 960 pixels by 1080 pixels per eye.

Shushei Yoshida said the current version was “near final”, suggesting there were further improvements to be made before it goes on sale, which is scheduled to happen within the first six months of 2016.

He added that more details would be unveiled at the E3 video games expo in June.

The release date is later than that of HTC’s Vive headset – a collaboration with video games publisher Valve – that is set to launch before the end of this year.

HTC’s kit is expected to be designed for games sold via Steam’s PC-focused Steam online marketplace, meaning it may not directly compete with Sony’s machine. PCs can generate higher quality moving images than the PS4 if fitted with special graphics cards.

Valve also released more details about how its VR system would work.

It said a tracking-system called Lighthouse would let users explore a virtual space and the objects within it from different angles by moving about in real life.

“In order to have a high quality VR experience, you need high-resolution, high-speed tracking,” said Valve’s Alan Yates in a statement released by HTC.

“Lighthouse gives us the ability to do this for an arbitrary number of targets at a low enough bill-of-materials cost that it can be incorporated into TVs, monitors, headsets, input devices, or mobile devices.”

HTC said it would allow manufacturers to build Lighthouse into their products without charging them a fee.

It also announced the Source 2 games engine – software used to create video games with 3D graphics – which it is making available to third-party developers.

The original version, which is 10 years old, was used to make games including Half-life 2, Portal and Titanfall.

Valve may provide more details about its VR platform later this week when selected GDC attendees will be among the first to try out the HTC Vive.

Oculus has yet to set a release date for its PC-connected virtual reality helmet.

However, Samsung already sells Oculus-branded VR kit that uses its smartphones as screens.

“I think 2015 and 2016 are going to be seminal years for VR,” said Sony’s Brian Blau.

“There’s a lot of products coming to market, which is going to mean consumers get to experience it in a way they haven’t been able to do before: at home and in high quality.

“Here at GDC, there are a lot of developers who are interested in VR.

“But the big issue is, will the helmets be affordable or expensive. The early adopters will probably pick one up and pay whatever price is asked, but a higher price will limit sales for mainstream gamers.”

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HTC has unveiled its new flagship smartphone, the revamped HTC One, as it attempts to regain lost market share.

HTC uses Google’s latest operating system, Android Jelly Bean, features a 4.7 in (12 cm) 1080p high display and includes a so-called ultrapixel camera.

The body is made fully of aluminium and has front-facing stereo speakers.

HTC launched the device in New York, a week before the start of Mobile World Congress, in what analysts say is a bid to secure attention for the phone.

The smartphone market is currently dominated by products from Apple and Samsung – HTC has lost much of its market share over the past two years.

It hopes that new software features will help to make its new handset stand out.

One of them is BlinkFeed, a personalized content feed on the home screen, that – according to HTC – “aggregates the freshest content from the most relevant sources as identified by you, providing instant access to news and social feeds without the need to jump between multiple applications and web sites”.

Another feature, called HTC Zoe, captures short high definition videos instead of still images before and after the camera shutter is pressed, so that users can chose the best picture to capture the moment. The software can also turn a gallery of still images into a collection of mini-videos.

HTC also boasts that its “ultrapixel” camera and software produce the best low-light shots available on any smartphone camera – a direct challenge to Nokia.

The HTC One’s rear camera’s sensor is bigger than those traditionally fitted to smartphones, and its pixels are also larger than normal.

The result, the firm says, is that it can produce clear shots in poorly lit situations.

HTC has unveiled its new flagship smartphone, the revamped HTC One, as it attempts to regain lost market share

HTC has unveiled its new flagship smartphone, the revamped HTC One, as it attempts to regain lost market share

However, the trade-off is that it only has a four megapixel resolution. It may outclass much of the competition, but the firm faces a challenge convincing consumers that the camera is as good as rivals’ featuring 13 megapixels or more.

The Taiwanese company hopes that both its hardware and software innovations can help it to regain ground lost to Apple and a bevy of rivals using the Android operating system, in particular Samsung.

Despite positive reviews, last year’s flagship phone, the HTC One X, struggled to sell, and the company’s net profit during the last three months of 2012 plummeted by more than 90% compared to the same period the previous year.

It was the fourth quarter in a row that HTC profits had fallen sharply.

Apple and Samsung, on the other hand, cornered the market with their new models, the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3.

More worryingly for the Taipei-based firm, HTC even dropped out of the ranks of the top five smartphone manufacturers by global market share, according to research firm IDC.

The consultancy says the firm now trails behind Chinese low-end mobile phone companies Huawei and ZTE, who took the number three and number five spots respectively. Japan’s Sony snatched the number four place.

HTC hopes that the HTC One with its aluminium unibody can help turn things around.

“We’ve created the best smartphone on the market; we just need to let the world know about it,” said HTC chairman Peter Chou.

A Gartner analyst agreed that marketing would be key if the company was to recover.

“Last year, the Butterfly and the One X were actually very good devices, but the sales were not as good as [the firm] expected,” said Lu Chun-kuan.

“The challenge remains that Samsung and Apple still have very a strong portfolio of premium devices.

“As far as the challenges at the low-end, that’s getting difficult as well. The market is getting more and more competitive, so… they have to make sure that consumers are aware about the new technology HTC can bring to them.”

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been photographed with a smartphone beside him during a meeting.

The mystery of what make of smartphone the ruler of one of the world’s most secretive countries favors has sparked international controversy not only among geeks but the average person in the Western street.

Is it an Apple iPhone? An HTC from Taiwan? A Sony from Japan? Surely not a Samsung from South Korea, the enemy across the border?

“I regret to say that I don’t think Kim would be seen dead with a Samsung,” said a technician in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

The dark phone seen beside Kim Jong-un’s elbow as he presided over a meeting with top national security advisers last week is at such an angle that its make cannot be defined.

But experts are agreed that it is definitely a smartphone, revealing that if it does actually belong to Kim Jong-un he is keeping up with modern technology.

“It’s believed that the smartphone seen in the picture belongs to Kim, given that the device was placed right next to the documents he was looking at,” said a Seoul government official.

South’s Korea’s media has given the picture – issued by North Korea’s state media – prominent coverage, along with a discussion about the possible manufacturer.

Samsung was 99% sure it wasn’t one of theirs.

“It looks more like an HTC model,” said a spokesman for the company whose Galaxy SIII phone is now outselling the iPhone.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been photographed with a smartphone beside him during a meeting

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been photographed with a smartphone beside him during a meeting

South Korea’s intelligence agents have carefully inspected the photo and they have also concluded that the Taiwanese firm was the likely manufacturer.

So what does HTC have to say about the phone?

“We aren’t going to get into a discussion about the device but we do appreciate the support of all users,” the Taiwanese company said in a statement.

It is highly unlikely Kim Jong-un’s smartphone of choice is an iPhone – apart from the fact that the device at his side appears chunkier than an iPhone it is doubtful he would be endorsing a product of the hated United States.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspasper suggested that politics was behind the brand choice.

“It must have been politically uncomfortable for Kim Jong-un to use products made by the U.S. … and he can’t publicly endorse the fact that the South [Korea] is more technologically advanced,” it said, in a reference to Samsung phones.

Apart from highly-placed officials, about one million people in North Korea own mobile phones, which were introduced into the country in 2008 through a joint venture with the Egyptian telecom Orascom.

However, they can only phone each other and not make international calls. In addition phones available to the public cannot access the internet.

But it is believed Kim Jong-un and his close associates are able to get online to the outside world.

“Kim and his family members as well as the North’s political elite appear to use smartphones or other mobile phones capable of accessing the internet,” said a Seoul government official.

Foreign visitors entering North Korea are now allowed to bring their mobile phones into the country, but they have to purchase a local SIM card that allows them to make international calls but prevents them connecting to local people.

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HTC has unveiled two Windows Phone 8 handsets at an event in New York.

HTC has said that it intends to promote the 8X, which features a 4.3″ (10.9 cm) display, as its flagship device alongside the Android-powered One X.

The firm is also offering a smaller 8S model with a 4″ (10.2 cm) screen.

HTC’s share price has fallen more than 50% since February after the firm experienced weak sales of earlier models despite positive reviews.

Analysts have said the firm had a weak advertising campaign which was compounded by the fact that its South Korean rival, Samsung, had a much bigger marketing budget.

HTC has unveiled two Windows Phone 8 handsets at an event in New York

HTC has unveiled two Windows Phone 8 handsets at an event in New York

Nokia and Samsung have already shown off alternative Windows Phone devices which will launch after Microsoft releases the operating system.

HTC said the 8X would launch in 50 countries in early November across 126 mobile operators, while the 8S would be available in 52 countries with more than 146 operators.

Such detail was notably lacking at Nokia’s recent Lumia 920 launch, where it did not confirm the date or number of countries the smartphone would be sold in.

HTC made much of the devices’ design at the US event saying they had “a remarkably unique profile” thanks to the way their edges tapered, becoming thinner at the bottom, to make them feel thin in their users’ hands.

It said its top-end model featured an 8 megapixel camera on its rear supported by a dedicated chip for “faster focus speed and clearer, sharper shots”. The 2.1MP front camera – used for video chats – has also been designed to provide a wide-angle view.

The firm also hopes to distinguish both models by including Beats Audio sound equipment which it said offered “deeper bass and crisp vocals”. The handset maker owns a 25% stake in the company.

The 8X has an NFC (near field communication) chip for touchless payments, but the 8S does not.

The bet on Microsoft’s technology carries risks – the firm’s phone systems only accounted for 3.1% of global smartphone shipments in the April to June months, according to research firm NPD.

But one of the company’s analysts said HTC had an opportunity to grow that number.

“The reception from operators is quite good,” said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager.

“The market wants another alternative to Android as vendors don’t want to face the kind of problems that have arisen out of the lawsuits between Apple and Android device manufacturers – products being withdrawn or delayed.

“But HTC has to compete against Nokia and Samsung which also have Windows Phone 8 products.

“Nokia offers extra services on top such as its transport and augmented reality City Lens facility, while Samsung has a bigger marketing budget.”

Another analyst praised HTC for the industrial design and materials used to build its new devices, saying they would prove eye-catching on store shelves, but was not convinced that would be enough to improve its fortunes.

“HTC has had problems standing out in the Android market, and it could be even more difficult on Windows Phone 8 as Microsoft controls more of the experience on the platform,” said Gartner’s research director, Roberta Cozza.

“HTC needs to add further value to the ecosystem similar to what Nokia has done with its imaging and navigation resources.

“Unless that happens I don’t suspect things will change a lot for the firm.”

HTC’s press conference is the last of the big smartphone launches that had been scheduled ahead of the Christmas shopping season.