HTC is one of the many companies that really seemed to have a real chance at making a go in the smartphone industry, but poor management and planning have brought them to the brink of being another BlackBerry or Nokia – both were once giants in the industry and now are struggling for their very survival. HTC, founded in 1997, initially manufactured laptop or notebook computers but in 1998 began designing some of the first hand-held mobile devices. They are credited with building the first Android and Microsoft powered smartphones in 2002, although their first major product was one of the first touchscreen phones and built the HP iPAQ and Palm Treo 650.
In October 2009, HTC launched their first global advertising campaign, "quietly brilliant." In June 2010, they launched their HTC Evo 4G, which was the first 4G capable phone in the U.S. To further expand their market, in July 2010, HTC announced it would collaborate with China Mobile and sell devices under their own name in China. During that year, they sold almost 25 million smartphones – up 111-percent over 2009.
For a brief period in Q3 2011, according to the research firm, Canalys, HTC became the largest U.S. smartphone vendor with a 24-percent market share, and following was Samsung at 21-percent, Apple at 20-percent, and Blackberry with 11-percent. However, HTC lost much of its U.S. market share in 2012 due to increased competition from Samsung and Apple, and never was able to recover.
Launched mid-2013, the HTC One's sales were extremely low for a device that was well crafted and engineered, and the public and reviewers really liked. However, extreme competition from the new Samsung Galaxy S4, along with a several marketing problems and HTC suffered its first quarterly loss in October 2013. HTC also released a HTC One mini and a HTC One max to round out the year.
Somehow, in the midst of all of that, HTC was able to introduce the not-so-successful HTC Flyer tablet in 2012. While beautifully designed – you have to give HTC credit for the looks of their devices – it was 7-inch tablet that launched on Sprint for $399 with a two-year agreement, while the Nexus tablets were selling for $199, and if you wanted the battery-powered stylus for your HTC tablet you needed to add $80 to the $399! Their second attempt was an AT&T exclusive – a 10-inch that sold for $699 on contract and, needless to say, both failed miserably.
As little as a 3 years ago, tablets were still in their infancy and nobody really knew what to do with them, other than to use them to play games because of their larger screens. People tried to use the original tablets as a real "computer" but neither the tablets or the applications were quite ready for that. However, tablets are now a force and sales continue to increase while PC sales continue to decrease. There is a real need for tablets in the business environment – the sales force, merchandising, design, in-house meetings, and sharing information with clients. More homes are including a tablet as a necessity for school work, calendar and appointments, recipes, or for entertainment purposes.
Apple has increase their iPad line and Samsung is leading an all out attack to become the number one tablet manufacturer by releasing numerous new Galaxy Note Pro and Galaxy Tab Pro models. Lenovo is making tablets, ASUS has joined the party – if HTC wants to start making tablets they better get started and not come too late to the party, which could be another mistake by their management team.
We know that HTC can design a great piece of hardware, but the user experience is also important, as witnessed by the latest Motorola devices – if HTC could combine those two, they may have a real winner on their hand. If they study design, add a great user experience, and keep the price in line, the HTC tablet could become a reality that people would actually buy. Will they ever overtake Apple or Samsung, no, but they could take over a solid third place.
We need HTC as a competitor in the smartphone and tablet categories…they also claim they are working on a smartwatch as well. Hopefully, we will hear from HTC soon what their plans are for 2014 and if they will indeed bring out a tablet. Please let us know on our Google+ Play if you would like to see HTC start making tablets, or do you think it is too late for them to make a difference in the tablet category.