The last two years have not been kind to HTC. Despite garnering critical acclaim from the One series and consistently improving both hardware and software, the Taiwanese company is getting battered on high-end phones by Samsung and Apple, and battered on low-end phones by Samsung and just about every Chinese company out there. According to a report from Reuters, HTC will try to shift its strategy in 2014 to give more attention to mid-range devices, which it has been ignoring somewhat for the last few product cycles.
HTC's co-founder Cher Wang admitted that the company's laser focus on the high-end, premium smartphone market may not have been in its best interests. "...we only concentrated on our flagship. We missed a huge chunk of the mid-tier market," she said to Reuters. According to Wang, HTC will pay more attention to the mid-range area in both developing markets and conventional profit areas like North America, Europe, and Asia, with a particular emphasis on phones from $150-300 retail. She also noted that HTC isn't interested in the bottom of the budget market, where margins are thinner than ever.
This position roughly lines up with the company line from two years ago, when HTC CEO Peter Chou said that he wasn't interested in making "cheap, cheap" phones. But Wang's statements open up the possibility for less expensive models with wider appeal, though I imagine Chou would be quick to point out that "inexpensive" isn't necessarily the same thing as "cheap." Outside of China, HTC's budget models have been restricted to the One Mini and a few one-off phones like the new Desire (Zara) and Desire 500. In the press release for HTC's Q4 2013 earnings results, Chou said that “we will continue to stay focused on making the best smartphone and building a compelling mid-range portfolio. Meanwhile, we are going to communicate better with consumers." Hopefully that includes a re-evaluation of HTC's current marketing, which has been underwhelming to say the least.
Remember this? HTC kinda hopes you don't.
All that said, HTC isn't going to be ignoring the premium side of the business. Wang noted that a new flagship would be unveiled soon (possibly the "M8" that we've been hearing about). Today HTC reported its forth-quarter 2013 results with a 3.7% operating margin loss, its second straight quarter of losses.