There's no need to go over what a bad year 2012 was for HTC, it's no secret that they didn't sell as many devices as they needed to, and their brand identity took a serious beating at the hand of Samsung. HTC have always been a company that has emphasized their excellent products and their attention to detail, and while that might be true there's no denying that they need to get their marketing sorted out. If they have any hope to push the HTC One onto consumers, they're going to have market it really well to take advantage of this earlier launch window. Fierce Wireless got the chance to sit down with Jason Mackenzie, HTC's global president of sales to ask how the company is going to take on Samsung's Galaxy S IV.
The Galaxy S IV is definitely going to be the Android smartphone to beat this year and the HTC One is an impressive device, made out of some quality materials, but are features and build enough for them to succeed? Mackenzie realizes that marketing is going to play a bigger part than it ever has done and it looks like the company has learned from their mistakes in 2012 with the One X. Mackenzie had this to say on the subject of marketing:
We need to not stop marketing when they launch, which is what happened last year. We'll continue and really invest. We're going to invest more than we ever have as a company in terms of direct marketing. We're going to be strategic on how we market.
As a proud owned of the One X, I know that they can deliver quality devices, that not only look good but are built well. Something I noticed straight away from the One X - I was a little late to the party - was that it dropped away from marketing in no time. It was there for a second and - poof - all marketing was gone. To see how well Samsung marketed the Galaxy S III last year, HTC definitely need to keep their marketing machine turning. The One might not be for everyone, but it's a good device and it should be marketed as such.
Speaking of features, we all know that Samsung is more than happy to load their phones up to the brim with them and the S III was no exception. While HTC decided to focus on imaging qualities last year - as they have done with the One - Samsung tried to "focus" on everything. Just like this year, HTC launched the One Series before the S III, this gave Samsung a helping hand it would seem:
We essentially worked for our competitors in some cases, where we launched these great things like burst mode, and then we let Samsung come in and suck in our innovation and own it in the consumer's mind.
I'm not so sure Samsung decided to "steal" burst mode from HTC but, let's face it, a lot of things "suspiciously" turn up in Samsung's smartphones. Samsung have incrdedible brand value in the "Galaxy" brand and for a lot of people, it's synonymous with Android these days and while Samsung were busy building this brand up, HTC were too busy being a great partner:
We built our name around being a strong partner. We did a lot of custom projects for different operators in order to provide them with significant differentiation, like the Evo, like the Droid Incredible line, like the MyTouch at T-Mobile. What it did is spread our marketing message too thin.
The Galaxy S III launched on every major carrier as the same device - as did the Note II - while the One Series was split between AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile with the Droid brand taking over on Verizon. To creat a strong brand, you need to deliver a device that's universal and everyone can access, smartphone exclusivity sucks for the same reason console exclusive games do - the whole idea is to get everyone involved. If you hold it back from people, they're going to resent you and your brand won't resonant with them.
The whole interview is a good read and it shows that HTC are ready to make some changes in how they do business in 2013. I certainly hope this means better marketing and the restraint to not launch a second wave of "flagship" devices.