HTC, if you can’t win, play harder!
Winning isn’t everything. It is a very important part of any sport, but it takes long-term work and determination to actually make that happen. Some athletes take years to gain recognition after their rookie years, and in the case of veteran players, it’s all heart as things go down hill, because they naturally will. Regardless of the case, whether an athlete wins or not, he or she is still getting paid, and as long as they can remain active, winning is always a bonus, but not really a determining factor for a player to remain in any game or not.
In the case of mobile technology, things are both similar and different. The market keeps growing at a very healthy pace year over year, and as such, the smartphone sales figures keep superseding even those of more basic human needs. It’s clear that this market isn’t even close to reaching its full potential, and the products being offered are appealing enough to keep people evolving and adapting new innovation.
That said, one of the biggest ironies of this decade is how under saturated the market is when it comes to the companies that offer mobile products. I’ll give you a clear example of how different this market is. If you were to buy a car, there are tons of companies and models to chose from, and that’s crazy considering that a car is much less affordable than a phone. I can give you at least 15 car makers off the top of my head, all with a specific market that they excel at, and each with specific leading products in at least one category.
Try doing that same count for smartphone makers. I can barely count 6 or 7 from the top of my head, some of these companies barely make and sell one phone, and have huge sales results and profit margins, and others sell a ton of phones and are losing money. Only 25% of these companies is actually selling well and the others are struggling to sell products that are a lot more affordable than a new car.
We’ve discussed HTC’s situation many times here. Most of us grew-up with HTC products, and I know that everyone of us in the team wishes that the company found a break in these “Galaxy” ages. The question is what’s left for HTC to do in 2013? They’ve built the best phone we’ve reviewed all year, and they’ve done a great job at distributing it on all US carriers under one brand, and they’ve even sold the phone with major deals to reach more market grip, and still, their profits are down 85% this last quarter.
So if a great product isn’t enough to win, what is? Here are my thoughts on what I think is missing, and I’m sure you’ll share yours in the comments.
HTC, you need to play harder
You know, the biggest irony of building a beautiful product is to not make it a fashion statement. Beauty and sex appeal are nothing without being promoted. Fashion magazines, car magazines, and yes, even we do our own share of either promoting or demoting a product depending on how good or bad it is. In the case of the HTC One, for Brandon Miniman to rate it as the best smartphone he’s ever used, is definitely the tallest of orders. It truly is a great phone all together. Sadly the marketing ambush that Peter Chou promised, lasted only a couple of weeks, and the results of under-achievements are evident in Q2’s bottom line. The HTC One is definitely worthy of being a fashion accessory. It’s well constructed, well designed, its UI is minimalistic and it just makes your experience with Android a lot better in most cases, than we’re used to with competing devices. Sadly, today that’s all Galaxy territory.
Playing harder also involves challenging the price competitors with the price tag. This is not always smart since it leaves customers with a perception that your product is cheaper, but then again, that would only apply to products that are identical or similar. If you saw two competing paper towels at the supermarket, both look like paper towels, so the cheaper one will be perceived as of lesser quality. In the case of phones, the HTC One is clearly superior to almost every competitor in construction quality, so I wouldn’t worry about that. HTC raised the price of the One in May, and I still feel that’s a huge mistake.
HTC needs “One” good shot and not many duds
There’s a common saying in my country that states: “the more you try to grasp, the less you’ll be able to grip”. Rumor mill is packed with leaked of the HTC One mini, and then we have the release of other non-successful HTC First, along with a ton of Desires and Butterflies all over. I’m trying to understand why HTC wants to complicate their lives even more. There’s no better way to compete than with a simple and reachable roadmap, and yet it seems that this memo hasn’t left the office.
The bottom line
Winning, being the best, or even the idea of remaining in the business is a bold effort. Anybody can go through college and learn the theory of how to win in this market, and yet, their results say otherwise. Knowledge sadly isn’t everything. Creativity, Diligence, Focus, Integrity are all added principles that are required, but that also don’t guarantee success. In the case of HTC, I’d say that some of these principles were historically not met, and they’re now struggling with them today.
The HTC One is reaching that point of no return where products sadly plateau and then drop in popularity. Do you think that HTC is doing enough to push this phone to the market, or would you agree that HTC needs a lot more work? Leave us a comment.