* confident on Q3, sees strong Q4 -Seiche
* unveils 2 Windows Phones, including top-of-the-range Titan
* to sell from Oct, first new Windows models in Europe (Releads with new phones, adds analyst comment)
By Tarmo Virki
BERLIN, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s HTC unveiled two new smartphones on Thursday based on Microsoft’s Windows operating platform, aiming to tap into continuing strong smartphone demand in the holiday sales-fuelled fourth quarter.
The new phones, including the top of the range Titan, will use a new version of Windows Phone, making them the first users to appear on the European market when they go on sale in early October.
The world’s fifth-biggest maker of smartphones sees a strong end to the year as consumer demand for its latest gadgets is expected to defy the wider macro-economic worries, a company executive said.
“I am confident on Q3. We see a strong Q4,” Florian Seiche, head of HTC’s business in Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Reuters on the sidelines of the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.
Seiche said good demand for its latest models was continuing, despite macroeconomic worries and longer replacement cycles in some countries.
On July 29 HTC gave a better than expected forecast for the third quarter, estimating sales would double from a year ago to 13.5 million phones, while its gross margin would be around 28 percent, down from between 29-30 percent in previous quarters.
HTC’s shares have fallen as much as 40 percent from their peak in April when they traded at T$1,300 because of the slowing growth, courtroom fights with Apple over patents and stiff competition.
Analysts say HTC needs new markets to sustain growth and will have to call again on the speed and innovation that turned the once obscure Taiwanese company into a global brand in five years and propelled its market value beyond that of Nokia this year.
At the IFA trade fair HTC showed off its new Titan model, which will be priced somewhat above Apple’s iPhone but carries a wider 4.7 inch display. It also unveiled the HTC Radar phone, priced at similar levels to other smartphones.
“HTC will be hoping the heightened awareness of Windows Phone as a result of Nokia cosying up to Microsoft will help kick-start interest in these new phones after the dismal reception of Windows Phone this time last year,” said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.
Windows market share has shrunk to a mere 2-3 percent in a smartphone operating system market now dominated by Google’s Android and Apple, but many analysts see it growing in the coming quarters.
Nokia, still the world’s largest cellphone vendor by volume, has decided to dump its own Symbian software in favour of Windows Phone.
Additional reporting by Jens Hack in Berlin and Jussi Rosendahl in Helsinki; Editing by Greg Mahlich