Taiwan phone giant HTC opens store in Myanmar, part of emerging markets strategy

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's leading smartphone maker HTC opened its first store in Myanmar on Monday, seeking a foothold in one of Asia's last remaining untapped markets.

The shop was inaugurated in Yangon by HTC Chief Executive Officer Peter Chou, an ethnic Chinese who was born and raised in the South-east Asian country, company officials said.

The move comes as global corporate giants from Coca-Cola to General Electric line up to enter the impoverished but resource-rich nation, which is emerging from decades of military rule and international isolation.

In a report released in March last year, analyst firm Nomura Research said Myanmar was "one of the last untapped telco markets in the region", with government plans to increase mobile penetration by 50 per cent by 2015.

While challenged by Apple and Samsung in mature markets, HTC has been turning to emerging markets, including China, analysts say.

But they say it is no easy task, citing challenges from China's telecom giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp., which have grabbed a huge slice of the world's low-priced markets.

HTC in December unveiled Butterfly, its first smartphone featuring a high-resolution, five-inch screen.

HTC sells its own smartphones and also makes handsets for a number of leading US companies, including Google's Nexus One.