It doesn't matter if it's the lack of ultra pixel camera modules, the fact that they aren't considered a top tier manufacturer anymore, or whatever the excuse of the day is, the fact remains that HTC is having trouble getting it's 2013 flagship smartphone the HTC One to store shelves on time and the sharks are circling. In a mobile marketplace dominated by Apple and Samsung the fight for third place is as fierce as ever so any misstep could be catastrophic, especially for a company like HTC who is banking so much on the One that their CEO Peter Chou has actually pledged to step down if the handset fails.
Seeing blood in the water the first company to take a bite out of HTC is Sony. Not only were they the first manufacturer to release a flagship smartphone this year, the Xperia Z, which is currently outselling everything not named Apple or Samsung in most countries, Sony is looking to take HTC out in the low end as well by undercutting HTC's pricing at every level.
Case in point; Sony is about to launch the Xperia SP in some parts of Europe with a price tag south of 400 euros. Not only that but the Xperia L will be even cheaper in Italy and the Netherlands selling for less than 300 euros. To put those prices into perspective one only has to look at HTC's comparable smartphone to the L which is the HTC One SV (320 euros). Both the Xperia L and the One SV have 4.3 inch 220ppi displays and 8GB of internal storage with the SV taking the processor crown (1.2 GHz over 1.0 GHz) and the L winning the camera battle (8 megapixels over 5 megapixels).
By undercutting HTC on the lower end of the market while the Xperia Z is winning the top end, Sony is killing HTC with a two pronged attack and pretty much wiping them from the consciousness of consumers. While it remains to be seen how these devices will fare once the Samsung and Apple marketing machines start whipping people up into a frenzy as the year progresses, we can look to see more companies like LG following Sony's lead to pile on HTC while the opportunity is there. And if that "end of March" timetable we have been hearing from HTC regarding the One gets pushed back even farther, we could be saying goodbye to Mr. Chou much sooner than even he predicted.