HTC’s lead designer is leaving just as the One M9 goes on sale

Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

Smartphone maker HTC’s lead designer is leaving the company just as its latest flagship smartphone is hitting the market.

Jonah Becker is leaving the company after less than a year in the top spot and six years total at the company, the Wall Street Journal reports. Becker oversaw the design work on HTC’s new One M9 flagship Android smartphone, which went on sale online early Friday morning.

HTC didn’t cite a reason for Becker’s departure, which marks just the latest high-profile shakeup at the Taiwanese company as it continues to lose market share to smartphone rivals like Apple, Samsung and China’s Xiaomi. Last week, HTC elevated co-founder Cher Wang to CEO, with former CEO Peter Chou moved to a position overseeing “product innovation,” as a company release put it.

The Journal reports that HTC has been switching tactics to find its niche in the market:

To avoid head-on competition, HTC has over the past year changed its strategy to selling more midtier phones in emerging markets. It has also outsourced some production to save costs and expanded into accessories and software to raise its brand awareness.

Those changes could already be having a positive impact for the company. HTC posted its first sales growth in three years in January, Bloomberg reported at the time. The company’s fourth quarter sales rose to NT$47.9 billion, or $1.5 billion, from NT$42.9 billion a year earlier. The company also reported an operating profit of about NT$180 million for the quarter versus analyst’s estimates of a NT$30.4 million loss.

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