HTC recently sold a part of its smartphone engineering team to Google for $1.1 billion. The move signaled the company might be exiting the smartphone business altogether. However, the Taiwanese tech company confirmed that it will continue to make smartphones regardless of the deal, and Google is only getting the talent behind its smartphones.
Now, Chialin Chang, one of the prominent faces of HTC’s smartphone division has also left the company. In an investor note, HTC confirmed that Chang has immediately resigned as the President of smartphone and connected devices business. The note says that Chang has quit due to “personal career plan”, and there is no word on his replacement just yet. According to local newspaper Apple Daily, Chang plans to set up an AI startup later this year.
Chang joined HTC as CFO back in April 2012, and has been leading its struggling smartphone business for the past few years. With Chang’s exit, the company is likely to entrust more responsibility on Chairwoman and CEO Cher Wang until there is an official replacement.
Chang’s exit should not come as a surprise considering the company has been struggling to maintain growth in the competitive smartphone space. However, the timing of his exit remains questionable since it comes right before the Chinese New Year holidays. HTC has been posting weak quarter results and its business is struggling in mainland China despite efforts to make a comeback.
HTC reported a net loss of $103 million in the third quarter of 2017, marking its tenth consecutive quarterly loss. Counterpoint Research claimed that new entrant like HMD Global is a bigger brand than HTC in the smartphone segment. TrendForce says HTC’s smartphone production volume decline to less than 10 million units last year.
With Chang’s exit, the future of HTC and its smartphone division remains uncertain. The company is reportedly working on its next flagship device called HTC U12 but analysts say the company has smaller sales target than in the past. HTC was once seen as the most innovative smartphone brand, but has lately conceded to the likes of Samsung and other Chinese brands by failing to adopt to the fast changing market.