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HTC profits slump but Kim Jong Un's a fan

Quietly despotic?

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Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC's profits slumped 91 per cent in the last quarter, but the firm received an unlikely endorsement after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was apparently seen using one of its devices.

The company has spent most of 2012 fighting arch rival Apple in court and trying to streamline its operations.

Its financials announced on Monday revealed a 91 per cent fall in net profit in Q4 from a year ago to NT$600m (£12.9m), with revenues down 40 per cent to NT$60bn (£1.3bn).

The firm also predicted revenue for the first quarter 2013 could be as low as NT$50bn (£1.1bn) – a slide of 17 per cent from Q4 2012.

However, a picture obtained by the Korean Central News Agency apparently shows at least one world leader is on HTC’s side.

North Korean despot Kim Jong Un was photographed at a recent meeting with what appears to be a black Desire smartphone, probably bought in China.

It’s thought that HTC may have been chosen by the Supreme Leader in preference to endorsing a US company (Apple) or appearing with a Samsung device from South Korea – a country with which North Korea is still technically at war.

North Korea’s 3G network, Koryonet, was launched in 2008 with the help of Egyptian operator Orascom. Although reports suggest many locals do have devices, internet access and international calls are prohibited and widespread monitoring of calls and texts is suspected.

For HTC, it’s probably not the kind of publicity it was hoping for as the firm aims to turn its fortunes around in 2013.

Ironically the smartphone maker left Korea last year in a bid to “streamline operations”.

The firm has grown its business significantly in China – shipments there jumped nearly 400 per cent in Q2 2012, for example. HTC has also said it will offer sub-1999 yuan (£203) devices in a bid to tap the huge appetite for smartphones at the lower end in China as well as renewing a focus on emerging markets. ®

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