HTC's mid-tier Desire family debuts in US

HTC Desire 816 hits the US via Virgin Mobile on Tuesday and will lead the company's push toward cost-conscious consumers.

The HTC Desire 610. CNET

HTC is bringing the One M8's more affordable sibling, the Desire family of smartphones, to the US.

The HTC Desire 816 will debut on Virgin Mobile on Tuesday for $299 without a contract. HTC will sell the Desire 610 and Desire 816 on its own website. The company also teased more Desire smartphones to come to the US.

The move marks a reversal of HTC's recent strategy to narrow its focus and marketing efforts behind the flagship HTC One M8. HTC continues to struggle with eroding market share and 12 straight quarters of declining revenue. By launching the Desire family in the US, the company hopes to expand its reach to more cost-conscious consumers and people who opt to pay the full price of the smartphone upfront.

Where the Galaxy S5 or iPhone 5S costs $650 without a two-year contract, there have been a number of companies that have sprung up that offer more affordable smartphones. LG, ZTE, and Motorola have in the last year been aggressive with rolling out reasonably priced smartphones without a contract. The prepaid market is considered one of the last growing parts of the traditional smartphone business.

HTC wants a chunk of that market. "We thought it was time that consumers had better smartphones to choose from across price points and payment options," said Erin McGee, vice president of marketing for HTC America, in a statement.

By selling its lower cost smartphones through its site, HTC is mimicking a similar strategy taken by Huawei, which struggled to get its higher end devices sold through a carrier, and opted to set up its own website for consumers. It sells the Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE on the site for $299.

HTC is hoping that the design of the Desire line, which shares similar visual cues as the HTC One M8, will attract consumers who can't afford its flagship smartphone. Rather than the metal construction of the M8, HTC opted to go with plastic for the Desire.

HTC is looking to expand its portfolio to go after even lower end customers, targeting a growing number of potential customers in the emerging markets.

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