In a surprise announcement today, HTC has announced that the board of directors has appointed Chairman and co-founder of HTC, Cher Wang as CEO of the company, replacing Peter Chou.
The announcement comes on the heels of the global announcement of HTC’s latest flagship phone, the HTC One M9, which is currently launching in various markets around the world, including in Australia where the M9 launches this coming Tuesday.
The move is a surprise, though on background it appears that Ms. Wang has been moving towards the CEO role for sometime, with HTC advising that she has been taking a more involved role in the running of HTC, with Mr Chou focusing on product development.
Ms. Wang founded HTC back in 1997 as an original design and engineering manufacturer (ODM and OEM), for a number of major brands such as Compaq, HP and Palm before transitioning to building their own phones, launching their own branded smartphones. HTC has been at the forefront of development for smartphones, with many firsts in the industry including the first Windows Mobile and Android Smartphones.
Recently HTC has hit troubled times financially, but moves towards rebuilding their lower to mid-range product catalogue has seen growth in recent quarters, thanks to the promising smartphone announcement and the move into new product categories.
It’s the development of new products outside the core smartphone business which has drawn interest over the last few months, beginning with the launch of the RE line of accessories. The RE camera was quite well received and has recently been followed up with the RE Grip, HTC’s move into the fitness market in partnership with US based sports clothing and accessories manufacturer Under Armour.
HTC also stole the show at Mobile World Congress with their announcement of a Virtual Reality headset in partnership with software juggernaut Valve.
In line with the success of these products, Peter Chou will transition into the role of Head of HTC Future Development, with Cher Wang taking the role of Chief Executive Officer immediately. How this will effect the company on a longer term is unclear but we’ll be watching with interest.