HTC, the ‘quietly brilliant’ company until 2013, ‘quietly’ dropped the meaningless slogan and reinvented the HTC to mean ‘Here’s to change’ and its new tagline as ‘It’s anything you want it to be.’ It seems that no matter what Acronym or slogans or taglines HTC chooses, it does not seem to be helping them sell any smartphones. From leading the US in smartphone vendors in early 2011 with over 20-percent of the market, HTC has now fallen to a minuscule 2-percent according to a report by Wired citing Gartner and there appears no upswing in the near future. Is it just another example of a small company finding it hard to compete against the ever-increasing smartphone vendors or was HTC’s demise because of poor management and their refusal to embrace changes in the market. Whatever the answer, we may never know, but it is a sad state of affairs when a company like HTC can have top-notch built quality and still find themselves holding on to only 2-percent of the smartphone market.
We do know that HTC made an effort to be innovative with their all-metal HTC One M7, but then changed it very little and by the time the HTC One M9 rolled out two years later, and what was once heralded as a revolution, had those same people retreating to the same-old-thing line. They also tampered with an area that is near and dear to smartphone users – the camera. Rather than using a ‘normal’ sensor, they introduced a 4MP main camera using ‘UltraPixels’ claiming they could capture more image, but the public never bought into their idea. Rather than using a larger sensor in the HTC One M8, they stuck with the 4MP and added a second one for photographic effects, another idea that never caught on. So while the Samsung, Sony and LG smartphones’ pixels grew, HTC was stuck for a year until the HTC One M9 came out where HTC finally went to a 20MP sensor, but rather than use a tried-and-true Sony sensor, they borrowed one from Toshiba.
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Displays was another area that troubled many potential customers knowing that LG had already moved on to the QHD display, and Samsung was about to use the QHD on their new Galaxy S6, HTC continued to stay with the FHD display on their One M9. Now we are reading about an HTC One M9+ with an QHD display and fingerprint sensor and enhanced photo taking…everything the One M9 should have been.
Outside HTC we have a market that is essentially bifurcated – Apple and Samsung control the high end, and even Samsung is finding it difficult to hold on there and the low end market that is dominated by Chinese companies like Xiaomi, a sandbox that HTC does not really play in. Without the broad array of devices to capture sales at every level, HTC is missing out at both ends.
HTC has also tried its hand outside the smartphone with the Re – a refreshing redo of the GoPro, but it has no on-board display and needs a variety of mounts to compete. The HTC smartwatch that they confirmed over a year ago that they were working on has yet to make an appearance. CEO Peter Chou said they were taking it very carefully…meanwhile the other manufacturers are grabbing up the market share – and I think that is one of HTC’s biggest problems because there is a point where you can be so careful that nothing gets finished.