When you're a big-shot investor in a major tech firm - or just happen to have enough shares and time to waste to get into the annual shareholders meeting - you have every right to expect free stuff at said firm's annual shareholders meeting.
At least, that's what a substantial number of attendees at HTC's yearly stock-person get-together thing expected. In fact, many of them decided to use their question time at the meeting to express their expectations, and the fact that said expectations had not been met, and seriously, what the hell man, you totally gave out free phones to everybody last year, what gives you jerks?
Instead, attendees had the chance to win one of 200 free HTC phones (type unknown, so let's just assumed refurbed Incredible 2s and Firsts). Oh, and they got a free HTC thermos, some fruit juice, and bread. Yay bread!
HTC's stock price has declined around 90% since it topped out in 2011, and understandably, investors in the company, those that remain, aren't exactly happy about this. And, of course, they expect to be appeased by having hundreds of dollars of gifts piled upon them in order to make them, as one attendee put it, "feel better about HTC’s sinking share price." That's how investing in a company works, right? It does bad, you get free stuff so you can ignore the fact that it's doing bad? I'm pretty sure this is standard Harvard MBA kind of stuff, guys.
This year's shareholder meeting drew a huge 2,000 attendees at a hotel outside Taipei, with the main ballroom booked for the event overflowing into the hallways. Probably because everybody kind of got the word that last year HTC did, in fact, give everyone who attended a free phone. That sort of news tends to spread. (FYI, if we assume the cost of a One M8 is $600 [well below the $750 MSRP!], giving out 2,000 of them would be a $1.2 million write-off.)
HTC was already in the tank last year, though, and the fact that the company engaged in such a misguided attempt to placate investors when it should have been the shining image of austerity goes to show just how out of touch the management of the once-number-one Android handset OEM has seemingly become. And what did giving out all those free phones get HTC? A bunch of pissed-off people expecting a free phone and unhappy with their continued investment in the company. Things seem to be going great!
Company CEO and scooter-ride-catching figurehead Peter Chou was, as always, forced to pretend that things will get better, just not right now: "I expect more noticeable improvement will be seen in two to three quarters."