In common with almost the entire Android smartphone industry, HTC has suffered from intense competition, falling sales and reduced profits as customers have not bought the 2015 flagship models but instead either opted to continue with their existing smartphone, or upgraded to a mid-range device instead. Of the Android industry, only two companies appear to be making money from devices are Samsung and LG. This is an unsustainable situation over the medium to longer term; if a company cannot turn a profit building and selling its smartphones and tablets, it either needs to change the product portfolio and reduce the cost of building or selling the devices, or it will stop selling into the market. As Android customers, we would much rather the former rather than the latter as even if our own preference is for a given make or type of Android device, having competition helps ensure that Google and the manufacturers continue to improve the products.
HTC have announced that they are expecting to see their sales gain momentum as we move into the final quarter of 2015, buoyed by the release of a number of new devices from the mid-range and high-end stables. HTC will also release their first virtual reality device, the HTC Vive, which it hopes will spur on sales. In that HTC are hoping that their new products will lift sales, as a manufacturer they are placing somewhat more of a focus onto the mid-range models compared with LG and Samsung. As one example, HTC have an announcement coming up later in the month, on the 20 October to be precise, and we expect them to announce the HTC One A9, which is looking likely to be a mid-range model. Current rumors around the One A9 include that it will be based around a 5.0-inch AMOLED panel, a new generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 system-on-chip (one of Qualcomm's super-mid-range SoCs including eight processor cores plus integrated graphics, networking and digital image processing), a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front facing camera. It will also run Android 6.0 Marshmallow under HTC's custom skin, Sense. We will need to wait for the announcement to have some clarity as to the likely cost and availability of the One A9 but the device will likely be available for considerably less than the One M9 and M9+ flagship devices.
The perception is that HTC have endured a difficult 2015 because their 2015 flagship model, the M9, was seen as a disappointment compared with the Samsung Galaxy S6. HTC's difficulties are deeper than this: it does not have the financial clout of Samsung nor the marketing budget and whilst its products are competitive, the business has lost a sense of direction. The business has been linked with a number of potential suitors but HTC's management have consistently explained that the company is not for sale. We will see if the renewed mid-range devices will encourage sales growth into the fourth quarter.