AH Primetime: Will HTC Finally Be Able to Make 2014 its Comeback Year?

March 31, 2014 - Written By Nick Sutrich

So HTC has finally unveiled the all new HTC One, henceforth known as the HTC One M8, and so far we’ve seen everyone loving the phone despite the mixed impressions from the announcement.  HTC is pushing mostly top of the line specs, with the Snapdragon 801 processor at its core, a 5-inch 1080p display with on-screen buttons, and 2 GB of RAM inside, plus the ability to increase on-board storage using a microSD card this time around.  HTC also improved the design of the phone, sealing it even tighter than before and rounding out the edges, making it one of the most comfortable and natural phones to hold on the market.  The body is coated in even more metal this time around, and the Boomsound speakers have made a triumphant return with even louder and clearer sound than before.  While the camera itself hasn’t received a resolution bump, HTC did include a new Duo Camera that gives some nifty new abilities to taking smartphone photos, including some very SLR-quality filters and adjustments because of the new hardware.

With all this new stuff what’s to stop people from buying the new HTC One M8?  Verizon is even doing a buy one get one free sale on the phone for its first two weeks of life, hopefully spurring on new HTC owners and attaching them to the brand for further phone releases.  Anyone who studies phone sales will tell you the importance of lower cost hardware and the relationship to getting it in the hands of more consumers.  It doesn’t hurt when your product is a top of the line device that people want either, doubling the possibility that people will purchase your device over your competitors.  What is HTC missing this time around that it’s basically always been missing?  Marketing, of course, and it’s something they’ve never really done as well as their competitors, and this time around it feels like they aren’t doing any of it at all.

With last year’s HTC One M7, HTC launched a marketing campaign featuring Robert Downey Jr. as the lead role, using the phone as if it were a device straight out of his very successful Iron Man series of movies.  While this definitely lends some serious cool factor, even more so than the phone already had just going by the looks of it, it wasn’t enough to pull HTC out of the downward spiral they had started facing in 2012.  As of the end of the year 2013 turned out to be a monumentally disastrous year for HTC financially, and as such a number of big-wigs were replaced in order to try and change HTC’s fortunes for 2014.  Since then they’ve not only announced and subsequently launched the HTC One M8 on the very same day, they’ve also started releasing more mid-range and entry-level devices in markets like China where they can get lots of sales on those sorts of devices.  The Desire 816, for instance, did so well it actually brought HTC’s stock shares up a notable amount, but one or two devices won’t be enough to hold HTC over for the whole year, especially if the Desire 816 and HTC One M8 are the only two major phones released for quite a while.  We saw last year that initial sales of the HTC One were strong, but fell off after a few months due to increased competition in the marketplace.  Without HTC having replacements for these devices to compete properly they fell off, and the One Mini and One Max phones ended up flopping pretty hard even though they were released some months after the original One was.

So far HTC has started with some pretty tame ads in subway stations and other places, but nothing like the media blitz we see from Samsung when they launch a new flagship.  The HTC name has become better known over the last year thanks to the One, but they’re going to need some serious advertising time in order to get their name out there and keep the brand in people’s heads.  As it stands most people think Apple or Samsung when they hear the term smartphone, and that’s something only marketing and consistently good product releases can change.  So far HTC is 2 for 2 with their main One product releases, and that kind of consistency will definitely catch some people’s eyes.  Couple that with a good marketing budget that HTC may or may not be able to produce and they could have a real winner on their hands.