HTC rivals BlackBerry’s dominance of teen market

BlackBerry’s position as the dominant smartphone brand in the under-25 age bracket is potentially at risk from HTC, according to research by GfK.

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It said the increasing number of budget Android-based phones on the market, and of free apps on Android Market, represented big threats to BlackBerry’s popularity among teenagers.

According to the data, BlackBerry commanded a 21% market share among smartphone owners aged under 25, as of December 2010. Its BBM instant messaging service was also a big draw and generated over a third of all smartphone purchases among users taking part in the study.

However, Adelynne Chao, a research specialist at GfK, says the 12-16-year-old market in particular is not very loyal and the wealth of free apps on Android market could rival BBM’s appeal.

“If HTC moves in with a low-cost Android handset, it could seriously take a lot of market share from BlackBerry,” she says.

Chao added that rival instant messaging services available on Android Market could cause BBM and the BlackBerry brand to lose its USP. “Low-priced handsets from HTC could become the next highly desired brand among teenagers,” she says.

BlackBerry’s market share among under-25s has grown rapidly over the past two years. However, HTC’s rise over the past few months has been more dramatic, according to Chao.

News comes as HTC reports profit more than doubled in the three months to June. Net profit was 17.2bn (£380m) Taiwanese dollars in the quarter, up from 8.64 (£187m) in the same period last year. Sales increased 88% to 1.55bn (£624m) Taiwanese dollars.

Fellow GfK analyst Ryan Garner said the growth of both the BlackBerry and HTC brands among smartphone owners aged under 25 was damaging to Nokia. “BlackBerry and HTC are going up at the expense of Nokia and it looks like HTC will eat into BlackBerry’s share too. You very rarely see trends like this,” he says.

The study also found that iPhone ownership among 12-16-year-olds was small and remained flat but increased rapidly in the 16-24 age bracket. “As soon as they’re earning money, aspirations for iPhones kick in,” says Garner. “It’s another very strong trend. The small market share of Apple is purely down to price and this is why HTC will trend upwards among 12-16 year-olds so sharply, because its devices have a lower price point.”

This story first appeared on New Media Age. For more digital stories and analysis from NMA click here now

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