It was a quiet afternoon at my workplace until my friend Panji mentioned me over a tweet whether I got an invite for HTC event in Jakarta. I was surprised and asked him back what event it was. He said HTC elevate meet up, and it'd be the first ever in Jakarta. Both Panji and I are members of HTC elevate, a VIP community programme run by HTC, aimed at customers and fans with by-invitation-only membership. In elevate, we make interactions with HTC and other members from around the globe, testing new softwares, participating in surveys. There are perks too, e.g. phone giveaways.
And then the e-mail from HTC Indonesia arrived. It's the invite, and I responded yes. I was just unprepared―I did not even bring a camera to the town.
I arrived late at Skydining Plaza Semanggi and took about 10 minutes to figure out the exact venue where they held the event. Aha, found! I went in and welcomed by a nice lady handing over a small white box. "It's a phone. You can give it a try but you cannot take it home", she said with a smile.
As usual, I did unboxing ritual and it turned out to be a dark blue HTC Desire X. The phone itself looks good and feels nice on hand, although personally I like HTC One V better. The screen is slightly better than that of One V in term of brightness and color vividness. Specs-wise it's not far different from the One V―save for processing power, screen size and appearance. HTC Desire X will hit the stores later this month for MSRP IDR3,099,000. That's a right price point to start, I think. If you happen to look for a mid-range Android smartphone with dual-core processor and nice set of features, consider this one. The hands-on session was short, interrupted by, surprisingly, door prizes. Everyone got one―I got a portable battery charger and somebody went home with a brand new HTC Rhyme in plum color (the variant that's not sold in Indonesia).
The guy sitting next to me turned out a rep from HTC Singapore. He introduced himself as Shane and he's a nice guy to talk to. Yes, we talked about the brand new device and HTC elevate. He eagerly asked me about my opinion on the device I'm currently using and the community. I told him I'm a sucker for good design but no compromise on features so I picked up this HTC One V. Then I shared story of how I got invited to elevate (well, that's another story that involves unpleasant incident, followed by serendipity that connected me to a guy from HTC HQ and shipment of device from the States to my doorstep). I also shared some views regarding to elevate itself and he took it quite well.
I asked him why elevate is very American-centric―the discussion are mostly about US-specific models and and members are majority of US residents. He told me it's about the market. USA is a big market for HTC, followed by Europe and Asia. SEA market is relatively small compared to them but they're working on it. The second issue is language barrier. "Some members from some countries usually get stucked on the front page. When they're presented with survey forms, they don't know what to do because they barely understand English," he explained. I was suprised by the statement.
Both Panji and I also had a talk with Djunadi Satrio, Marketing Director at HTC Indonesia. Djunadi is no stranger to me, we met several times at previous Sony Ericsson events (he moved to HTC earlier this year, by the way) and he's still as nice as before. Djunadi shared some interesting insights.
Being a social media junkee, I threw him a question about HTC Indonesia's low presence on Twitter. He did not deny that. He told us HTC Indonesia have done good job on Facebook and they are planning to make stronger engagement on Twitter. He also shared some figures and metrics on Facebook campaigns. "We're number two on Facebook after BlackBerry Indonesia," he added. We nodded in agreement.
Then he shared story about the challenges HTC has been facing in Indonesian market.
"It's the awareness," he said. "There are consumers who confuse us with Chinese brands (those that make cheap, dual-SIM phones, or some of you might call them 'brand lokal', ed.). Some others are aware of our brand but expecting more, e.g cheaper models we do not deliver."
There are some challenges in distribution chain, too, and yet it's related to awareness. Some stores prefer to pick cheap 'brand lokal' because they sell fast. "An IDR6,000,000+ phone has higher risk to end up in the shelves, collecting the dust," he joked.
"What about the strategy?" I asked. "HTC is committed to deliver the best experience possible to consumers. We're multiplatform smartphone manufacturer," Djunadi explained. "We also committed to bring the latest technology and best build quality to the market." Djunadi also hinted the latest Android platform as the phone hits the market as part of the commitment. They do not have plan to make and sell feature phones, or smartphones with small screen at IDR900,000.
"3.5 inches is the smallest size of screen to deliver optimum experience of HTC Sense to consumers," he added. "We can make smartphones with 2 inches screen and 400MHz processor, and sell them for cheap―the components are cheaper nowadays. But we won't do it. We don't want to compromise the user experience." We all nodded again. "We are not going 'down' to that price-point."
Then Panji asked about future models. Djunadi only said the HTC Desire X will be released later this month, followed by the One X+ and Windows Phone duo 8X and 8S later this year. He did not mention specific date, though. We also discussed about Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft's secrecy on the platform.
"I heard Microsoft forbidden you to show Windows Phone 8 to the press beyond the start screen?" I asked him. He did not deny that question. "I have tried HTC Windows Phone 8 device(s) but the software is not finalized yet. The design(s) is (are) sleek!" he said without mentioning which model it was. My guess was the 8X.
Djunadi handed us his name card and the event was officially over. It was fun and we enjoyed the discussions much more than the Desire X itself. They promised to hold more engagement events in Jakarta.
Photo credit: Panji.