Display specialist Hannstar is shaking up the smartphone sector with its first own-brand Hannspree devices.
UK territory manager Martin Kent tells us why the firm is swapping televisions for smartphones…
PCR:Why are you entering the smartphone market now?
Martin Kent: Our parent company Hannstar is a producer of small-sized glass and touch sensor technologies for quite a few of the big smartphone vendors. Consequently it makes sense to have a Hannspree-branded product as we have done in the tablet sector. It’s the next logical step for our consumer electronics brand.
We also see it as a fast-growing market with big growth expectations over the next six or seven years, so we feel it is the right time to position Hannspree to compete in this area.
What sets your smartphones apart?
Our smartphone portfolio will feature larger sized screens than the norm.
The current smartphone market is predominantly made up of products with three or four-inch displays – we’ll most likely launch with a five-inch display.
Although it’s a crowded market, we’ll be offering a higher-end spec with a more affordable price tag to position our brand.
How has business been over the past year?
We work from two brands – our monitor brand HannsG and consumer electronics brand Hannspree.
From a HannsG perspective we’ve been in the market now for over eight years – and our monitor business is still very stable in a tough market. In terms of market share, we’re consistently ranked as a top six seller against some big industry players.
From the Hannspree perspective, we successfully launched our own Hannspree tablet around Q3 last year. We achieved good sales and developed a good customer base in a very crowded market in Q3 and Q4, and we’re continuing that trend in 2014.
Do you have any plans to launch 4K monitors?
Not at this stage. A bigger focus for our HannsG monitors is touch; we launched Windows-based 23.6-inch and 27-inch touch displays in Q4 2013.
The touch market is still in its infancy stage and relatively small but we are seeing month-on-month growth in the sector.
With 4K I think we will hold back until the technology is at an affordable price point to the consumer, and there are interesting volumes. I am sure we will look to go into the 4K sector, but I don’t foresee any short-term plans.
How important is the monitor market for you now, considering that you’re moving into the smartphone sector?
It is a key focus area for us both on a consumer level and the industrial POS/kiosk area.
We believe our affordable touchscreen monitors could help reinvigorate a stagnant PC market. The gaming enthusiast media have been extremely positive about our new models.
We’ll also be looking at larger format touch, such as 32-inch and 40-inch.
What are your sales expectations for the smartphones? How do you think they will be received by retailers?
We’re hoping for a good response. I think any area we go into we would want to achieve a certain level of market share to meet our own expectations.
Even to achieve 0.5 per cent market share after six months would be a good target to set. The big screen sector is fairly niche so we should have a higher chance of penetration success – we believe the demand for larger screens will grow substantially over the next few years.
Why did you move away from televisions?
We didn’t have the manufacturing capability to cut large-size glass for our TV business so essentially we ended up outsourcing. When you do that it puts you in a difficult non-competitive position, because you have no manufacturing strength to react quickly to market demand – and an unstable price platform.
What’s next for Hannspree?
We know we can bring a good smartphone product to market at an affordable, competitive entry-level price.
We also hope that Hannspree’s upcoming Home Tablet [Android box and touchscreen monitor bundle] concept will bridge the gap between the tablet experience and adult computing for children, who are now already very much touchscreen adept from an early age.
FACT FILE: Hannspree UK
Contact: 0871 666 0850
UK employees: Seven
Based: Hemel Hempstead
Distributors: Exertis Micro-P (HannsG/Hannspree), Midwich (HannsG/Hannspree), Ingram Micro (HannsG), Tech Data (Hannspree)