04
Jan
2013-01-04_14h04_58

I miss you, HTC. My Evo was the first phone I ever truly loved, and between 2007 and 2010, as a company you did remarkably well for yourself. Then the Thunderbolt happened, and then Beats got involved and... Well, let's just say it hasn't been a great couple years. So, when I hear that your CEO, Peter Chou, is planning some bold new changes for 2013, I'm hopeful. Skeptical, but hopeful.

It hasn't been any secret that HTC hasn't been doing so hot. Its stock has plummeted (from a high of 661 TWD in February of last year down to 287 today), its market share is dwindling, and while it has promised to streamline its product portfolio, we're still getting bizarre mid-range devices that break way too many branding commandments. Oh, and while mature markets will be glad to hear HTC isn't going to make any "cheap, cheap" phones, the big growth demographic is low-end, inexpensive handsets for developing nations, particularly in the population-dense Asian regions. The company may simply not have the funds to focus on both high-margin, high-end handsets and mass produce mediocre mobiles, but if the company can get back on track, it will be something they'll have to consider at some point.

There is hope, though. HTC seems to have at least some understanding of what it's missing. On the short list? Advertising. As Chou told the WSJ: "Our competitors were too strong and very resourceful, pouring in lots of money into marketing. We haven't done enough on the marketing front." Yes, this is very true. In the first half of 2012, the two big handsets for the year were taking shape: the HTC One X, and the Samsung Galaxy S III. One of these handsets went on to sell iPhone-levels of units, and one of them received a mild spec bump a few months later and fizzled out on just one U.S. carrier (with another branded rough-equivalent on another). Can you guess which is which? I'll give you a hint: the company that sold truckloads of phones is the same one that spent huge amounts of money on advertising.

One of the big things that should aid HTC in funding its new endeavors is that the legal wrangling its been facing against Apple over the last few years should be over. With the cross-licensing deal in place, the company will certainly be sending checks to Cupertino every month, but that should cost considerably less than continued arbitration. Not only will it be free of legal fees, but there should be a 100% drop in the number of shipping delays at US Customs.

Much of Chou's comments to the WSJ are exactly the type of posturing one would expect from a CEO of any company that's looking for a turnaround. "We're going to do better, the bad stuff is over, people like our products, responsive, market trends, dynamic growth, new demographics, innovative features, standout from the competition, buzzwords buzzwords buzzwords." Of course, with CES coming up and a fresh new year ahead of us, there are opportunities galore for HTC to put its money where its mouth is.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • Jrocker23

    I think the DNA is a good start even though vzw minimized the memory...

    • jak_341

      I would consider that phone. Two things scare me: HTC's upgrades (or lack thereof) and the battery life. I may still pick it up. My upgrade is burning a hole in my pocket.

      • EvilBadger69

        There was a report out the other day that historically, HTC are actually better than Samsung when it comes to updates. And I've heard the DNA's battery life is middle of the road if anything - not great, but not terrible :)

        • PINJ

          Theyre Better In The Feature Upgrades But Not Better In The Timely Upgrades

      • Jake

        If you've read any review other than The Verge's you'd know that the battery life is above average and lasts surprisingly long. Do some research before jumping to conclusions.

  • jak_341

    Keys to HTC turnaround:
    1) Software support and upgrades
    2) Better battery life
    3) Good quality materials and radios
    4) Sense doesn't make sense anymore (I've been saving that one)

    • bleeew

      1) I guess they can do better softwsare support. They are about or equal to Samsung.
      2)I have the DNA, its lasts as long as the GS3
      3)The materials are really good. feels durable.
      4)I guess they can change sense to be more stock looking, but its lighter than previous generations.

  • vasras

    Wrong conclusions Chou.

    You didn't lose, because you advertising sucked.

    You lost, because your hardware and your software upgrades sucked.

    • mrsbelpit

      You realize that they lost to Samsung, whose hardware and software upgrades sucked, right? It's all about being the cool kid, and right now that's iPhones and Samsungs.

      • ProductFRED

        Allow a marketing major, moi, to explain the [marketing-related reason] that Samsung beat HTC this year:

        1. Consistency across ads. The first batch of ads made fun of iPhone users while the iPhone 5 was coming out (and also the 4, during the S2's release). This is something we can all relate to. It was the same ad, with different versions mentioning which carrier the phone was available on (like how different iPhone ads say "Available at Sprint", then another one will says "at Verizon", etc).

        2. Furthering point #1, the ads were all humorous while at the same time showing off features of the phone. Like the one where the father gets in a cab, and his wife S-Beam's him a "special video". I don't know about you but that made me go "oh sh*t" and laugh. But more importantly, you knew what you were getting because the main features/selling points were clearly shown off in the ads.

        3. Consistency across carriers. Updates are another thing, and those are the carrier's fault. I'm talking about the fact that the phone is the same on every carrier, so if friend A recommends the phone to friend B, both friend A and friend B get the same phone, with the same design, and same features and apps regardless of what carrier they're on. It's less confusion and more product/brand appeal.

        4. Consistency with naming. Even the average person knows "S1, S2, S3". My friends who known nothing about technology call it either the "Galaxy", "S3", or "Galaxy S3". When people remember a name, it means a lot. Meanwhile HTC has "One S", "One X", "One V", "One SV", etc. And none of them are available on multiple carriers. I applaud them on the 8X's consistency, but no one cares enough to buy a Windows Phone right now, so they should focus the effort on Android.

        5. HTC's "Sinner Man"/"YOU" campaign got old quickly; it was a nice introduction to the company's product line, but it focused more on clever phrases and catchy music than, "I'm going to show you why you need to buy this phone, and I'm going to make you want it badly." I mean, I can't at all remember the last HTC ad I've seen on TV since that ad campaign from 2010/2011. People actually considered the S3 over the iPhone 5. I have die-hard Apple fan friends, both who know and don't know anything about phones or computers, who picked the S3 over the iPhone 5. That was pretty much the phone question of the year: "iPhone 5 or Galaxy S3?". I lost count of how many times I've read this question on Facebook.

        6. (This is also a technical reason) Gimmicks like "Beats Audio", which is nothing more than a software equalizer that can be installed on any phone. I'm not sure if this affected their sales well, but I believe they sold their stake in the company so I'm going to say no. Too often, HTC has been relying on cheap gimmicks to sell their devices. It started with the Evo 3D, which I owned. It was not worthy of the "Evo" name, because it was a crappy device that didn't sell well at all because it offered nothing more than a 3D screen. With the S3, you get a LOT of features. In fact, Touchwiz is so light but functional, that I don't want to flash CyanogenMod on my phone because there are a ton of useful things I'd lose.

        -----------------------------------------

        So yes, part of it WAS marketing. Marketing is extremely important. From a technical perspective:

        1. You never know when you're going to expect updates.

        2. Their stance on locking bootloaders when other OEM's like Samsung leave them open. If anything, they should have just introduced a flash counter like Samsung did. It really alienates a whole market of users (enthusiasts/rooters).

        3. Huge list of flagships; One S -> One X -> Droid DNA/Butterfly J -> One X+, and soon the "M7". The new Galaxy comes out once a year. You want a year to feel on top, like Apple does with the iPhone. It's also a sign that the manufacturer doesn't focus updates on a phone very well. Look at Motorola. Every 5 minutes there's an HD MAXX DEVELOPER 4G LTE edition of the last phone. What happens to the original? No updates.

        4. Sense is bloated. Seriously, it's been shown to slow down devices and affect battery life. I used to love Sense during the Eclair - Gingerbread days, but now it just looks cheesy. The former is truth, and the latter can be disputed, but I share the same sentiment as many other users.

        5. Don't ever doubt the importance of battery life and expandable storage, and whenever possible, include a removable battery. It's one reason why I can't use a One X over my S3.

        6. Taking all these things into account, we are the group that OEM's turn to to recommend our products. They want the knowledgeable tech people to recommend these devices to friends and family. Tell me why I would ever recommend a One X or S to a family member over an S3 or Note 2.

        I'm sure there are several other reasons, but this is what I could think of right now, plus I'm at work.

        Enjoy.

        • Cherokee4Life

          i agree with almost all of that BUT what turns me a little is the 1 phone a year. I HATE that idea. iPhone is a good example (not bashing Apple). Every year they come out with 1 phone. and every 2 years you get a new upgrade so i feel like if you own an Apple phone its either this years or last years and to me that's not enough options and lazyness on the companies part.

          that being said that whole crap with One S, One V, One C, One B, One D, One X, crap should have been done completely different. They should have release the One X and the One V on ALL 4 CARRIERS, don't rename the stupid thing, at least give it the same name and let the cards fall as they make like the S2 for Sprint = Epic 4G touch..

          The EVO LTE should have happened, i mean I own one BUT I don't think it should have been the same as the One X in essence. It should have been the same screen and Processor and storage BUT a removable battery and a freakin micro usb port on the bottom of the device (look at the EVO 4G, don't fix whats not broken).

          I love HTC and I will be faithful to you to the end but cut the crap, make a High End phone and a midrange phone that is on all carriers. Don't get me wrong i love the fact that I have an EVO LTE and if I ever see one I know that person is on the same network as me but at least do the Lumia thing and have certain colors for certain companies or something.

          they need to spice up their phones physically and superficially.

          • PINJ

            I Dont Think You Know What You're Talking About There In The Beginning.

        • Mike C.

          You are right on pretty much all counts. However HTC also did something right: The hardware in the One X was better than the iPhone and the S3. The design of the phone blew the plastic S3 away. Sadly HTC was unable to use this to gain marketshare.

        • ERIFNOMI

          I forgot about Beats. Not only was it simply an EQ setting and a logo on the back, but it was a terrible EQ. It's either on or off so you get to choose between flat because your earbuds are lacking or just bass and ignore mids and highs.

          I had a rezound and was pretty pissed that beats didn't let ME choose how I wanted my music to sound.

        • PINJ

          Are You REALLY REALLY Going To Go Down The Route Of Claiming That Samsung Produces Less Flagships Than HTC In A Year.... Do Your Reserach On The American Market Buddy

          • ProductFRED

            Do you know what flagship is? It's the poster child/face of a company. It's always been a Galaxy S device for Samsung. Anything else is either a mid-range or low-end device. The Note 2 is another flagship, but it's meant as a side-by-side alternative to the S3 and is the same across all carriers.

      • dude

        The reasons I don't buy HTC phones anymore are, these reasons might not apply to the entire public, but I don't care:

        1. Having to unlock the bootloader through HTC Dev which void HTC warranty, the softwares tends to be more locked than Samsung in term of rooting and modifying.

        2. Lack of removable battery and microSD card.

        3. Sense.

        • troph

          But who uses stock these days anyways?

          • ProductFRED

            Stock Android? A lot of people actually. Sense affects performance and battery life, and this is coming from someone who used to love Sense and now uses Touchwiz on his S3. Samsung learned to slim down Touchwiz, but HTC keeps making Sense bigger.

          • troph

            Ah I see, I haven't used Touchwiz-- thanks for sharing. I found Sense, OK, but I thought everyone would have bloatware. That's why I'd go custom/3rd party anyday. Then again I have a low end phone (HTC One V) and my experience with all low level phones (or older models) is that companies never support them-- from my experience with a low level Samsung, and LG. I just don't have that many expectations for stock, I expected the people they are catering (the majority) don't really notice.

          • Tim Harper

            the majority of android users use stock, actually. we are in the minority.

          • troph

            Yeah but I don't think a majority of those people notice the difference between something like Touchwiz and Sense. If they did, wouldn't they just use custom, because custom is superior is almost every way.

          • ERIFNOMI

            A lot of people can't be bothered to use custom ROMs. Then there are those don't understand, and never will. They can't be expected to learn a new skill just to have a decent OS for their phone.

          • PINJ

            You've Gotta Be Kiddin Me.

          • Lte_Addict

            um nexus 7, 4 and 10 owners are a good example. i have a nexus 7 on 4.2.1 and stock android has grown to be better than touchwiz, sense, etc

          • troph

            Nexus doesn't count. That phone is selling the support and software. That's the whole idea of Nexus.

          • PINJ

            Nexus Doesnt Count?! WTF Are You On About

          • troph

            Why Do You Feel The Need To Capitalize Every Word Of Your Sentence In Every One Of Your Comments?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dominick-White/642535026 Dominick White

          so you will not be getting a nexus phone then, because of your number 2?

        • spunkysam

          Reasons I didn't get HTC: no microSD and no physical button.

      • troph

        And you become "the cool kid" through advertising. It's a wonder HTC even compete with Samsung in the USA, seeing that I've never seen an HTC commercial and from one day alone, (watching a basketball game a couple days ago) I saw 6 different Samsung commercials or product placements (Note, tab, s3).

        IMHO HTC phones are more pleasing aesthetically than Samsung. And I prefer their build quality. Just my opinion.

  • ERIFNOMI

    I want to like HTC's phones, I really do. But they keep making stupid mistakes. I thought about buying a DNA off contract but besides the software stuff that everyone hates (boot loader, sense, developer support, etc.) there are a few simple things they didn't have to screw up.
    First of all, it's a large phone. This is fine, but they put the lock button on the top of the device in the center. It's nearly impossible to get to with one hand. Why not put it on the side as is now common in other large phone.
    Next, that battery cover. It STILL wraps around the device's sides which, while looks great, eventually leads to the most annoying creaking sounds ever.

    HTC, I want to love your phones. Just give us what we want!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dominick-White/642535026 Dominick White

      no that would be giving you what you want, you are not everyone

      • ERIFNOMI

        You don't want better build quality and timely updates? Well then, I suggest a thunderbolt or maybe an LG (excluding the Nexus 4 of course).

  • itsgonnalast

    I think I remember Chou saying last year that "consumers don't care about battery life if the phone is thin." It's disappointing that the CEO has decided to take the company down this path.

    I usually like HTC hardware - they seem to have a talent for finding a good balance of plastic and metal.

    Motorola and Samsung have tamed Blur and Touchwiz but HTC Sense has stagnated. That and the battery issues are my biggest turnoffs.

    • Melissa Peterson

      Yeah, after I heard that I sent an email saying they need to focus on increasing battery life.

      • PINJ

        And Its Surprising To All Of Us That They Didn't Listen To You

        • Melissa Peterson

          Sounds like sarcasm from the way you typed your comment, unless you always type that way. I happened to be quite serious in my comment.

      • http://twitter.com/DJMadLinx Mad Linx

        Agreed, I couldn't believe the "thin is more important than battery" stance HTC took in regard to battery life

  • McLean Riley

    How to turn HTC around:

    Removeable battery
    Micro SD Slot
    Super LCD (again) 1080p
    Make it easy to develop for like the Evo and the Hero were.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=714859472 Rajvir Singh

    It's all about marketing..
    Apple is best at marketing, look how people line up without even knowing why they want the new "Apple 5" LOL
    IMO HTC has to nail down these things :
    Fewer devices, timely updates, better battery life and of course better marketing...
    Making fun of iPhone somewhat helped to push Samsung to the top, and HTC should give that a go too... Of course iSheep are going to disagree cause they would be poked at..

  • bleeew

    I blame Samsung and its GS3. HTC needs to put the same phone on all carriers. I enjoy HTC phones(have a DNA), but the "stupid(non tech savvy)," get a phone based on its looks, or because someone said it was cool. They need to do more ads, but not spend a lot of money either. I dont think the problem is SD card or unremovable batteries(because the i doubt the "stupid" would change batteries), but they give a carrier a different phone. The latest high end phone is the DNA and ONE X+ for USA. What about T-Mobile or Sprint? Different design makes it seem like a different phone. So, HTC please be more consistent. Maybe they should launch the HTC Two on all carriers and then a side launch for a special phone for the carreirs (t-mobie gets the mytouch, sprint with evo, and verizon with droid, and att with its special phone)

  • heat361

    I can fix HTC just give me the reins :D

  • Lte_Addict

    My first HTC phone was the thunderbolt on verizon (ugh) lol and then the htc vivid on at&t (double ugh) lol i gave htc 2 chances and they blew it, i switched back to samsung galaxy s line quickly! and i love it, but even above samsung i prefer the new nexus 4, point is samsung knows what it takes to make an impact, htc is still learning

  • daseaton

    HTC will when if they just do a couple of things: get a battery the size of the Droid Razr, a marketing budget the size of Samsung,and regular updates.also keep the shutter button for the camera, give the device 32 gigabytes of storage, and keep the SD slot, do all of that and sell the same device across all 4 major carriers and you have a winner.

    • PINJ

      And If The World Was A Fairytail With Only Dwarfs And Horses.

  • L boogie

    Maybe Chou and company should take note on the various reasons the consumer base have been saying for some time now; delete carrier exclusives and launch simultaneously across the board, release devices like the One X+ and DNA(with a much bigger AND removable battery as well as external storage) on day one, market the hell out of the device, stay steps ahead of companies like LG by updating your products on a consistent basis, stick to a simple yet specific naming, keep your bootloaders unlocked etc and since Sense is your pride and joy, be the first OEM to make the UI optional between stock Android and Sense. Not a hard concept to listen to your consumer base after all, but failure to comprehend what's pretty obvious and suffer the consequences.

    • http://twitter.com/DJMadLinx Mad Linx

      I don't think that could be said any better!

  • Melissa Peterson

    I hope this means no more hardware buttons, because that isn't very appealing anymore with ICS and JB out there.

  • SoWhy

    I loved my Desire - it had good hardware, was easy to root and customize, had an SD-slot and decent battery life which I could prolong by upgrading the battery. When the time came to upgrade, I considered the One X but chose the S3 instead. Why? Because all those things I loved about my Desire were missing in the One X. If HTC wants to regain customers that loved their 2007-2010 phones, they need to make phones like that again.

  • Dale Griggs

    I never had a Thunderbird but my granddaughter did. If I remember right, the battery lasted 2 hours until she bought an extended battery. Then it lasted three hours. It was the first 4G phone but you had to turn 4G off because it sucked the battery dry.
    Other than that, three months after she bought it, the paint was wearing off.

    Until then, .HTC was a class product, but it went downhill in a hurry.

    It is an old story, make a great product, get a great reputation and then go for the kill and make a huge profit. Thousands of companies make the same error and never recover.

    I think Apple is now doing the same thing. They have decided to make a killing and if the fanboys haven't learned that by now, they never will. Look at the Iphone 5, what did it bring to the party to make it such a hit? NOTHING! But the mindless buy it anyway. Its hardware is only a year behind while the software is at least two years behind. As an example, a 4 inch screen? You have to use a magnifying glass to see anything. How about notifications, did you notice anything that looked familiar? How about multi-tasking that is just suspend one task and start up another one? And the Australian government has warned their citizens to not use Apple maps because they may kill you. Sales shot up because Google provided the maps. What does that tell you? I could go on, but once you lose people's trust, it is VERY difficult to get it back. HTC has already learned that, Apple is about to.

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