Here’s What HTC Did Right to Become Relevant Again


HTC was once the prime brand of Android smartphones to buy. It was the first manufacturer to bring an Android device to the market, the T-Mobile G1. It manufactured the first Nexus device, the Nexus One. And it was among the first manufacturers to release a wildly popular, iconic Android smartphone, the HTC EVO 4G.

HTC was once on top of the Android smartphone industry, if only for a short while. But times have been hard for the Taiwanese manufacturer for some time now.

Samsung learned from its long list of mistakes and started incorporating an organized, simplified branding. With the Galaxy S II, Samsung landed one of its flagship devices on practically every mobile carrier worldwide. And the South Korean’s mobile business boomed. With the two most recent generations, Samsung has only improved on the branding consolidation and turned the Galaxy S brand into a common household name. No longer does every single carrier get a different version of the latest Galaxy S. Samsung now effectively makes one (or two flagships, if you consider the Galaxy Note line) for all carriers, which has resulted in record sales for the Galaxy S III and an incredible amount of hype and anticipation for the next-gen Galaxy S.

This monumental success for Samsung, however, has come at the expense of other Android brands. In fact, it was found in late 2012 that Apple and Samsung are the only two profitable smartphone makers.

HTC has replicated Samsung and Apple’s marketing strategy with a single device across all carriers.

HTC has struggled in finances for quite some time, reporting net losses in profits for several quarters past. Its market share has suffered and it silently slipped from being the premier manufacturer for Android devices to a struggling company fighting to maintain every ounce of market and mind share it has.

Other factors were in play, of course. For example, lawsuits over patent disputes landed HTC paying licensing fees to Microsoft for every Android phone manufactured. And HTC’s tablet endeavors weren’t exactly lucrative and successful.

But, by adopting the “less is more” mantra, HTC had plans in 2012 to consolidate and turn things around. With One branding (One X, One S and One V), it appeared HTC was on the track to recovery. But that vision quickly dissipated with the introduction of a handful of other One models – the One SV, One VX, One SU, One X+, etc. Not to mention, HTC had missed the mark, once again, with carrier exclusives and not putting its flagship in as many hands as possible.

This year, however, HTC has almost completely turned things around and seemingly hit a grand slam with the One. What changed, though? Why is HTC getting so much love all of the sudden?

On paper, the HTC One is definitely not better than the Galaxy S 4. With a microSD card slot for expandable storage, a removable battery and a replaceable battery door, the hardware itself is more versatile. The S4 also has an arguably better camera.

Other than those features, which are vital to many, mind you, the One and S4 are on par with one another. The UltraPixel camera on the One, although not terrible, is hardly the best smartphone camera around. Yet people are still interested and excited for the One. And a horde of people will still likely choose the One over the S4 – many of us here at Pocketnow. Why?

HTC kept doing what it does best: making superior hardware. But it implemented better strategies that have proven successful for other companies (read: Samsung and Apple.) HTC promised to bring the One, unchanged, to hundreds of carriers worldwide.

The HTC One is highly regarded for its build quality and design.

It’s not exactly about specifications. It’s about delivery, confidence, the product as a whole and finesse.

HTC managed to build the first Android phone that many are considering equal – or superior – in build quality and design to the various models of the iPhone. And the company made a very valid point that megapixels are overrated. Although the UltraPixel camera could be better, the quality of pictures taken with the 4-megapixel HTC One camera are on par – albeit smaller in actual size – with 8-megapixel and 13-megapixel cameras of competing smartphones.

And its perceived shortcomings from previous models, such as the lack of microSD card slot or meager battery, were answered with the One. The One comes in two models: 32GB or 64Gb. Either capacity should be more than enough for most consumers. And the battery is 2,300mAh – not the best, but not exactly meager either. Our Brandon Miniman found the battery life to be on par with other flagships available, like the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S III.

Not only did HTC improve its marketing strategies by expanding its reach and putting its single flagship on a wide array wireless providers worldwide, it is providing a stellar follow-up to the HTC One X and answering all its shortcomings over the years.

The more exciting part is not exactly what the HTC One will do by itself. The Galaxy S 4 will undoubtedly outsell the One, dramatically. It’s obvious. But such a drastic change by HTC proves that it’s learning by its own failures and the failures of its competitors and adapting quickly, before it’s too late. The One alludes to a brighter future for HTC in the mobile industry and, hopefully, an even better successor to the HTC One this time next year.

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About The Author
Taylor Martin
Based out of Charlotte, NC, Taylor Martin started writing about technology in 2009 while working in wireless retail. He has used BlackBerry off and on for over seven years, Android for nearly four years, iOS for three years, and has experimented with both webOS and Windows Phone. Taylor has reviewed countless smartphones and tablets, and doesn't go anywhere without a couple gadgets in his pockets or "nerd bag." In his free time, Taylor enjoys playing disc golf with friends, rock climbing, and playing video games. He also enjoys the occasional hockey game, and would do unspeakable things for some salmon nigiri. For more on Taylor Martin, checkout his Pocketnow Insider edition. | Google+