Verifying a rumor put out by BGR over a month ago, HTC has announced after a dismal end to 2011 (net profits fell 26% last quarter) that the company will be changing its handset strategy to focus on fewer, "hero" devices in the coming year. The problem of excessive handset iteration is one I've opined on before. It is a problem, and while it's unlikely that HTC's balance sheet woes were even in majority caused by the large number of handsets they released, making fewer models is certainly a way to cut costs and increase the amount of attention that goes into each product.

Of course, this doesn't all of the sudden mean that those products will be better. It also doesn't mean the majority of those products will run Android, either. HTC has been pushing hard with its Windows Phone 7 devices, and has more on the horizon this year.

The idea of more focused handset development is definitely great in theory, but we'll have to see how it plays out in practice. HTC is a bit of an oddball among the three major Android device makers, focusing (typically) more on hardware design and value-added features like Beats Audio and its Sense UI overlay in lieu of cutting-edge internals, razor-thinness, or up-to-the-minute OS updates. The problem? These are the things Android fans get excited about. In fact, I personally had trouble getting excited about any HTC device released in the last year - the company didn't have a Galaxy S II or DROID RAZR "moment" that really stuck. It was all pretty mundane, really.

Let's hope this strategy works out.


David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Zomby

    As much as myself and many others are more wowed by the specs and peculiarities of a phone, I know there's a whole lot of people who go by the build quality of HTC handsets wich they feel is superior. To each their own I say, wich is the beauty of Android (and even WP7) versus closed systems.

  • http://www.superiorsmartphone.com superiorsmartphone.com

    also, too many htc's look the same as last years models.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody

    True they haven't had those WOW moments, but they haven't had nearly as many of the WTF / "Are you F-ing kidding me" / "Go shove your head ***#*#(&U$(#*@&$*#@)$*(#@)$" moments that seemed to have plagued Samsung and Motorola either. :)

    Aside from the locked bootloader subject and a few botched releases (thunderbolt anybody?), they haven't done too much to anger their customers lately.

    Not sure what the story will be with this, but I'd like to see them lobby hard to deliver the next Nexus device.

  • Torstein Molland

    I think this is great, because when you buy a new phone, you know there won't be a "hd" or "maxium" or "extended" out the next month.

  • edd

    Thanks Christ for that! They were my hero brand right up until 18 months ago, when they just kept releasing carbon copies of older devices. I waited for 24 months for something to come along which actually improved on the HD2, and when it never came, I decided it would have to be the Samsung S2.

    Anyway, great news, now go make us some hero phones. Hell, I'd have been very happy with the Sensation XL if they hadn't crippled it with lack of expandable memory (it was at that point I switched to Sammy).

    HTC, you're still my preferred brand, but please put your money where your mouth is and make a true flagship.

  • Tomcat

    Android fans might get excited about latest OS upgrades and cutting edge specs...

    But there are also people who prefer HTC's way, mainly because of the Sense UX. In fact, some of my relatives (elder generation) love their HTC devices, because it offers a much stronger out-of-the-box software experience than vanilla Android or Motorola stuff (didnt compare to Samsung, so I dont know about that).

    HTC ships (arguably) well designed E-Mail, News, Offline Maps, Stopwatch/Timer, Weather, Stocks apps and so on...

    Not to forget all those little things, that are sometimes really nice to have: Like automatic ringtone volume reduction when picking up the phone from a table, muting ringtone when turning it face-down, displaying the local weather forecast directly in the calendar event view, and so on.

    For many Android enthusiasts, this is all just bloatware. But for the less tech-savvy, its a wholly different story.

    Anyway, Im really curious about what HTC will bring this year...

    • Edd

      Its a valid point, byt I think the main criticism is that instead of HTC choosing a couple of bands, e.g. high tier, mid tier, low tier etc. and a couple of models in each range, they just pump out clone after clone of mid-tier phones and then have trouble supporting them all. For non-enthusiasts, it makes it even more difficult to choose a model. For enthusiasts, we wonder what's the point in bringing out so many bland models.

  • Matt

    Let the EVO family procreate and let everything else die off.

  • Saneless

    All I can say is as long as HTC doesn't pull a samsung and release phones that are wider than my entire hand, I'm ok with whatever they do

  • Michael

    I sure hope so. I think everyone has their preference regarding the weight and feel of a device but going from the EVO 3D to the Epic 4G touch, the EVO 3D feels like a brick. I hope they also find a way to speed up sense...its a nice UI but it has so much lag compared to the Samsung.

  • John

    I am curious to see how this plays out this year. Android phone makers have created a culture where people no longer want the phone that came out a month ago or two months ago because they know something newer/better is about to come out. People are really going to need to believe in this change in order to buy a device that is two or three months old.

  • Tyler

    I do like HTC's build quality. Despite the lower specs, my Thunderbolt feels like a greater quality phone than my brother's super plasticky Bionic.
    Same goes for my dad's Nexus, it just feels cheap in the hand compared to my tank of a Thunderbolt.

    • Manuel

      Same, I just feel Samsung phones (in particular) have kinda poor build quality, including the GS2

  • aburgthing

    I felt it was such a marketing mistake to not build on the names of the powerhouse devices that HTC released in 2010. The Evo line of phones went all over the place but in essence went nowhere, the Thunderbolt and Sensation were just updated with a whole new set of names and forgotten. I for one had the excited anticipation of what the next Evo was going to be in 2011. We got sub par handsets in the 3D, Shift and Design. I say build buzz with your elite handsets year over year like the Galaxy S and iPhone lines.

  • L boogie

    I agree with a majority of the comments in that Htc came out with a stellar cast of devices such as Nexus one, Incredible, Evo 4g, Flyer, HD2 etc but has been rehashing the design of these winners as of lately. Hopefully devices such as edge, ville, & bloom as well as a true sequel to the aforementioned first gen devices could catapult them forward. And while on Htc, hopefully they work on better battery/ camera technology, no more locked bootloaders (thumbs up for present work on this), launching timely updates by not depending on carriers & utilizing NOVA/IPS/ SUPER AMOLED HD displays on their future devices.

  • Ocu Jos

    I don't understand why people praise HTC "build quality". Here is my list of issues I've had with my HTC Nexus One:

    1. Faulty Power button. Due to poor design, power button dies on all N1 phones!

    2. Dust under the screen. I have an office job and have >>always<< kept my N1 in a pouch. This is really annoying as my theme is black and specs of dust are clearly noticable.

    3. Screen burn-in. The notification area has a burn-in as the original, unrooted phone is of white colour. This means that it "ages" quicker than the rest of the screen. Again, HTC didn't follow Samsung's AMOLED guidelines and use black theme with a black notification bar.

    I can't see how Samsung can be any worse than HTC in build quality. Samsung may be using too much plastic on their phones, but it's of the highest possible quality: have a look at this video

    • Dan

      I used my N1 every day all the time (went through 3 batteries most days) and I had it on the dock at night - always with the screen on as an alarm clock for 2 years until my GN arrived last month. Its still my PMP using the dock for music now in the lounge room (CM9a with a repartitioned system part to squeeze 4.0.3 on it) - google music rocks just quietly.

      My point is that my power button is fine, I dont have dust under the screen (I do have the AMOLED screen) and there is no screen burn in - and apart from the occasional crazy screen glitch it was a pretty neat handset. I actually think the GN feels cheap compared to the N1, and my missus just upgraded from the DHD to the NexusS and she feels the same, cheap and plasticy vs the aluminium unibody. I thought she would like the slimness and lightness of it but she doesnt either. HTC know how a phone is supposed to feel in your hand, but that's just my opinion. I do however like my GN and wouldnt swap back but I wish the battery cover felt like it wasnt going to snap every time I change batteries!

  • An observer

    I too am disappointed with the build quality of my sensation. It has developed the documented earphone jack issue, randomly redialing the last number and changing tracks without warning.

    Having bought the phone outright, I now carry an expensive torch,.

    Unsurprisingly, the retailer claims it is not a warranty issue and htc insist i post it overseas to an inspection centre for evaluation.

    This is the last htc product that i or anyone i know will own.

  • http://gadgetstip.com aatif

    yeah HTC must do something , quality will be important thing if they focus on quality quantity will increase automatically by user demand .