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