HTC to Increase Focus on Blockchain Phones, AI After New Staff Cuts

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC confirmed earlier this week that it would axe jobs to remain competitive and better focus on a handful of high-end products, including the EXODUS, its blockchain phone. 

HTC, which has around 3,000 employees, has not disclosed the scale of the lay-offs or the departments that will be most affected, according to a report from Taiwan News. This will be the third round of job cuts staff at the phone manufacturer have faced in the past five years. The company let go 2,250 employees in 2015, and cut a further 1,500 in July 2018. 

HTC says the downsize will allow it to retain an innovative edge for a selection of its products. This includes its virtual reality system VIVE, as well as the EXODUS, its series of blockchain-powered smartphones. 

First unveiled in May 2018, HTC’s EXODUS phones can connect to decentralized networks and allow users to download and run decentralized applications in much the same way as conventional apps run on smartphones. The phone also doubles up as a hardware wallet, providing owners with a secure and mobile means to hold their cryptocurrencies. 

An in-wallet cryptocurrency swap feature, initially enabling quick exchanges between ERC-20 tokens, was added earlier this year.

The EXODUS went on sale at the end of 2018, and was initially only available to buy in cryptocurrency. HTC’s latest blockchain-powered phone, unveiled this October, can run a full bitcoin node. Future plans include adding support for Binance Chain, with a new special edition of the phone.

The EXODUS isn’t the only blockchain phone on the market. Sirin Labs also began shipping its own blockchain phone, the Finney, at the end of 2018. Samsung released its Galaxy S10 earlier this year, which is fully compatible with ERC-20s, dapps and bitcoin. There have also been reports that LG is contemplating launching its own product, although nothing has been confirmed. 

More generally, competition in the smartphone space, from established rivals like Samsung and Apple, as well as new entrants like Google, has hit HTC’s market share and may have placed the company under substantial financial pressure. Revenue is reportedly down, with July sales only reaching $1.5 million, according to Liberty Times.

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