HTC will not launch a new flagship smartphone in the US in 2017. This is the latest prediction being made by the analyst firm, BayStreet Research, with Cliff Maldonado of BayStreet specifically stating that HTC is not expected “to launch a new flagship phone across carriers next year”. The reason being given for this prediction is that HTC no longer has the infrastructure in place to launch a cross-network flagship device.
Maldonado notes that following a string of layoffs and cost-cutting measures within HTC and most notably, within their sales division, that the company is unlikely to be able to accommodate a major smartphone release where the smartphone will be available through all the major carriers. Instead, Maldonado expects that HTC will revert to an original design manufacturer (ODM) status. Which essentially means that HTC will be a ‘device-to-order’ type of manufacturer – where companies, like for instance, Google, could order a Pixel smartphone which is made by HTC or carriers, like for instance, Sprint, could order a device to spec and have it built for their customers. Not dissimilar to the recently-released HTC Bolt which is currently only available through Sprint in the US.
In fact, the introduction of the Pixel by Google and the HTC Bolt are two of the indicators that Maldonado notes further leads to the assumption that an ODM route is now part of HTC’s business plan for the US market going forward. With Maldonado noting that “it is our understanding that the Bolt at Sprint is a collaboration, much like the Pixel with Google” while further adding that the understanding is that Sprint is committed “to guaranteed volumes in return for better pricing”. A business model that BayStreet foresees HTC continuing with in 2017, with the company looking to focus on partnering “with brands to lower marketing and distribution costs and overall risk”. Although, at the moment no details (or suggestions) have been made as to whom HTC will partner with next year.
Of course, it is worth keeping in mind that this is only a prediction being made by the research firm and is based upon BayStreet's understanding of the current US infrastructure for HTC. Therefore, this is not the same as a report or a rumor developing on such a topic. FierceWireless did reach out to HTC after first picking up on the BayStreet predictions, although HTC has yet to respond in a formal capacity.