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Struggling HTC Looks to Sponsored Content Amid Handset Woes

HTC will test sponsored content inside its BlinkFeed social stream, starting in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Taiwan and China.

Ina Fried / Re/code

HTC confirmed Tuesday that it plans to start showing ads within BlinkFeed, the social timeline it builds into its smartphones.

Sponsored content is starting as a test in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Taiwan and China, HTC said in a blog post.

The move comes as the Taiwanese hardware maker continues to struggle in its core business of selling smartphones.

HTC has been looking for a variety of new ways to generate revenue, including expanding into action cameras and virtual-reality gear as well as trying its hand selling software.

However, those businesses have yet to take off, and the company has shifted back into the red after several quarters of narrow profits. Critics say the company has not done enough to update its flagship product, making only modest changes to the HTC One over the past two years.

Shares plummeted last week after the company slashed its sales forecast for the current quarter, leading to speculation that it could become a takeover target.

HTC announced in March that its chairwoman, Cher Wang, was taking over the CEO spot from longtime chief Peter Chou.

As for the sponsored content effort, HTC stressed that it was a test and would use promotions for HTC products and ads served from Twitter, Yahoo and Appia.

“We will be implementing a way for you to opt out of receiving these promotions, but we hope that displaying native and limited promotions in this way will help you discover new and useful apps and/or products and services,” HTC said. “It’s important to note that this rollout is a pilot, so right now we’re only testing and analyzing the effectiveness of this particular native format implementation. It’s too soon for us to say when or if these promotions will be rolled out to additional markets.”

That said, it’s hard to imagine it being a huge business for HTC, nor see it helping the company in its larger battle against Samsung and Apple.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.