htc one x

Featured: HTC Sales are Down, Need More than just Innovation to Stop Sinking

August 7, 2012 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Today HTC announced their profits for July, and they didn’t look good at all for the Taiwanese manufacturer. Especially since they pulled out of the South Korean and Brazilian markets recently. HTC’s revenue fell 45% compared to this same time last year. HTC brought in T$45.11 Billion last year, this year just T$25 billion in the month of July. This is the same manufacturer that brought us the first 3G Windows Mobile smartphone and the first 4G Android smartphone, they also had a few other “firsts”.

Some people are comparing HTC to Nokia and RIM, which many of us don’t believe that’s a fair comparison. That HTC is dead in the waters and Samsung, and Motorola are now the top dogs in the Android ecosystem. I don’t think HTC is dead yet, in fact they still have quite a while before they are in the same league as Nokia and RIM, especially RIM.

When HTC announced the One Series at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, HTC reinvented their lineup, in a way that most of us did not see coming. Bringing us a whole new version of Sense, deeper Beats Audio integration, an amazing screen, and an outstanding camera. The One Series looked nothing like the past HTC devices we had seen, a big part of that was the overhauled Sense UI. They did away with the overly huge Phone button in the middle of the dock and went to a more stock launcher. I have always been a big fan of HTC’s products having owned the HTC EVO 4G, HTC EVO 3D and the HTC Sensation for a short time. The only thing keeping me from owning one again is the long delay in updates.

So where did HTC’s Troubles start?

It’ll started last year, when HTC decided to instead of putting out high-end devices, they just refreshed their old devices like the Droid Incredible. They released the Droid Incredible 2 which didn’t do that well, and now they just released last month the Droid Incredible 4G LTE which isn’t much different from the two previous Droid Incredible devices. Big mistake HTC. It also put the image in people’s minds that HTC was not a high-end manufacturer but a middle to low-end manufacturer.

Also HTC is absent from the tablet market. HTC did produce the HTC Flyer and the Jetstream, neither sold well at all. It didn’t help that the HTC Flyer came with Android 2.3 and it didn’t receive Honeycomb until Late 2011, with the wifi-only version getting it early 2012. The HTC Flyer can really take some notes on what ASUS has done with all of their tablets. ASUS has some nice Transformer tablets including the Transformer Infinity tablet and the Nexus 7. HTC needs to get back into the tablet game, and I’d like to see them bring out a 7″ tablet that can compete directly with the Nexus 7 at the same price or even lower, which would be hard to do since Google and ASUS are making little to no profit on the $199 16GB version.

It’s not just the Hardware, Software counts too

There are two big reasons why HTC devices aren’t selling too well now. One is HTC’s skin, Sense. It’s way to bulky and uses too much memory. Sure Sense 4.0 was scaled way back, but it still makes a Tegra 3 quad-core processor look like its a dual-core chip. That’s just how bloated Sense really is.

The second reason is software updates. Consumers don’t want to wait months just to see an update to the newest version of Android. Now this is actually a problem on all devices, and HTC is one of the quicker manufacturers to upgrade their devices to the latest software, but it needs to be quicker. Everyone is buying a Nexus now so they can have the latest from Google as soon as it hits. If HTC can start rolling out updates within weeks and not months after code hits AOSP, their sales will increase drastically.

Now there are a few other reasons why HTC isn’t selling devices like they were last year, one being that they have only released 5 phones this year. Which includes the HTC One X, One V, One S, EVO LTE, and the Droid Incredible 4G LTE. Only one of those phones has a removable battery, and that’s Verizon’s Droid Incredible 4G LTE.

If HTC is going to give us a non-removable battery, it needs to be much larger

Many power users do not like having a non-removable battery in their phone, unless it’s a huge battery like Motorola put in the Droid Razr Maxx. Honestly I can’t blame them. I usually buy an extended battery for my phone because I do use it a lot. If HTC put a 3300mAh battery (the same size as the Droid Razr Maxx) in their HTC One X, it would be guaranteed to be a number one seller on AT&T and the other carriers offering it.

HTC has said in the past that customer cared more about design then battery life. Well I’d like to see what HTC has to say about that now? Every Android user I know prefers better battery life over almost everything else about their device. It looks like HTC began to get that with the Droid Incredible 4G LTE they recently launched on Verizon, it does indeed have a removable battery.

Stop with all these different Variants of the same phone!

Apple was smart and able to put the exact same phone on Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and few other smaller carriers in the US. So why can’t Android manufacturers do the same? Well Samsung followed Apple’s footsteps with the Galaxy S3 this summer, launching basically the same device on 5 carriers in the US including T-Mobile and US Cellular. So c’mon HTC launch the next Generation One X on all the US carriers at the same time. That would prevent having so many different variants of the same phone. For example the HTC Sensation has at least 4 different variations. There’s the Sensation 4G for T-Mobile, the Sensation, Sensation XL, and the Sensation XE, these are unnecessary and a big culprit as to why updates are taking so long. That needs to stop. It gets confusing when blog sites like Android Headlines report on a device getting an upgrade, we constantly get questions asking if it’s for their version. It needs to be simpler.

HTC Needs to hold their own press events

HTC needs to act smarter when announcing new products. As you probably remember, the Samsung Galaxy S3 was not announced at Mobile World Congress this year, but announced at a Samsung Unpacked event in May. Samsung is also holding another Unpacked event later this month to announce what looks like the Galaxy Note 2. Now what HTC can learn from Samsung is to hold their own press events outside of the major trade shows like CES and Mobile World Congress to announce their new flagship devices. Then the devices will get more coverage and time in the spotlight. Let’s be honest, at those big famous trade shows, we see hundreds of new devices there and it’s sometimes hard to remember them all.

HTC, it takes more than just innovation now

So there are a lot of things that HTC can learn from Samsung. Which makes sense since Samsung is the top manufacturer for Android and number two in the world right behind Apple and their iPhone. I’d really like to see some tough competition between Samsung and HTC, pretty sure we would see some amazing devices.

As far as HTC building one of the next Nexus’ devices, I’d love to see that. Who remembers that Nexus One? It was a great phone wasn’t it? I’d like to see what HTC can do if they get a chance to create another Nexus device, I hope they throw in the One X’s screen along with a Tegra 3 or 4 processor. Who would buy a HTC Nexus device?

These are just my ideas of how HTC can return to one of the top manufacturers in Android and Windows Mobile, but what are some of your ideas? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.