HTC reveals major job cuts in smartphone pivot

HTC is laying off a quarter of its workforce as it continues to adapt to slowing smartphone sales and an increased focus on Virtual Reality (VR).

According to Reuters, as many as 1,500 jobs will be cut at its manufacturing plant in Taiwan before September. It is speculated that the company, which employs 6,450 people worldwide, wants to bring its smartphone and VR businesses in each region under common leadership.

"Today's reduction in manufacturing workforce announced by HTC is a decisive step in the realignment of resources across the organization, and will allow more flexible operations management," HTC told TechRadar Pro in a statement.

"The Company will offer full assistance to those employees affected by the plan, which will be completed by the end of September. HTC continues to review its operations to ensure production resources align with key strategic initiatives, so that the Company can more effectively compete in its target markets while maintaining its innovative edge." 

HTC job cuts

The company was once one of the most successful Android manufacturers, with its models and Sense UI helping to win over millions of loyal users. However in recent years it has fallen behind the likes of Samsung and the Chinese vendors who dominate the sector, despite a number of critically-acclaimed handsets.

Last year it sold its smartphone design and engineering team, which worked on the Google Pixel, to Google for $1.1 billion, while its head of smartphones departed in February. HTC released the U12 Plus earlier this year, but the suggestion is that this will its only flagship smartphone to be released this year.

However HTC is establishing itself as a leader in VR with the Vive range. Most recently it announced the Vive Focus, a standalone headset, while CEO Cher Wang told Mobile World Congress (MWC) about her goals for the market.

A long-standing ambition of Wang is to expand the use cases of VR beyond gaming, which has unsurprisingly been the first major application, into other areas of life, work and entertainment.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.