The first few months of each year are a very important time for mobile manufacturers.
The second week of the year is the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, where thousands of consumer electronic makers flood to the city to showcase the latest and greatest to affiliates, the press and, thus, the rest of the world. Each year, there are a handful of new, attention-grabbing handsets unveiled in Vegas.
A month and a half after CES wraps-up, Mobile World Congress begins in Barcelona, Spain. By nature, the mobile-centric show is a solid launch platform for new smartphones and tablets. At MWC so far, we’ve seen the Galaxy S 5; HTC Desire 816 and Desire 610; ZTE Grand Memo II, Blade Q mini, and Open C; Sony Xperia Z2 and Xperia M2; BlackBerry Q20 and Z3; LG G Pro 2, F70, and F90; Blackphone; Nokia X series; the next YotaPhone; Lenovo S660, S850, and S860; Huawei Ascend G6; and the Alcatel One Touch Idol 2, One Touch Idol 2 Mini, and the One Touch Pop Fit.
That’s not even counting the wearables, tablets, or what we saw at CES, and it’s incredibly difficult to keep up with it all and keep everything straight.
In all the hubbub, however, only a handful of handsets have caused a major stir. First, the highly-anticipated Galaxy S 5 – some love it, some aren’t as enthralled. But we can all agree that it wasn’t quite what anyone expected. The G Pro 2, Nokia’s X series, the new YotaPhone, and the Sony Xperia Z2 have all shared the spotlight, each in their own right.
But there is also one major upcoming flagship missing from the show: the all new HTC One.
This is no major surprise, though. Over the past couple of years, HTC has shifted outside the typical announcement patterns and started announcing its annual flagship device on its own terms for more exposure.
So why is HTC’s absence this year so important?
Last year, Samsung didn’t join the massive show either. But the HTC One was announced just days before Mobile World Congress. Nearly one month later, the Galaxy S 4 was unveiled at a one-off Samsung Unpacked event, simultaneously, in various cities around the globe.
Because of that one-month gap, HTC got a head-start on its biggest competitor. Samsung released the Galaxy S 4 for sale in April, while the HTC One was available for purchase around the world in March. This equates to several weeks on retail shelves without a direct One competitor for HTC.
This year, the two companies have effectively flip-flopped. The Samsung Galaxy S 5 was made official on Monday at Unpacked events in both Barcelona and New York. Samsung practically leapfrogged HTC with an early announcement. HTC’s announcement for the next-generation One was confirmed just earlier today for March 25 – almost exactly a month after Samsung’s flagship. Chances are, though, its tardiness won’t matter all that much.
For starters, Samsung is going to move millions of Galaxy S 5s, no matter when it announces and releases its massively popular Galaxy S phone each year. It could have waited to announce the phone in May, June, or July, and it’s highly unlikely it would have a major effect on the overall number of units Samsung will inevitably move.
The effect will be stronger on HTC, since the next One will be hitting headlines and, likewise, shelves at a later date. But I’d be willing to wager the consequences of not beating Samsung to the punch this year will be less prominent than it would have been than, say, last year.
Currently, HTC is still riding on the success of the much-loved One. Whether that success is financially sound or not, the handset has had a lasting effect on the mobile space. Even to this day, I hear and see people praising the HTC One for its impeccable build quality and design. And rightly so – it’s one of the best looking handsets of all time.
The HTC One received the most votes in our Pocketnow Readers’ Choice for 2013, and just yesterday, the GSM Association crowned the One the best smartphone in the 2014 Global Mobile Awards – a high distinction for a phone quickly approaching one-year-old.
Its quality speaks volumes, and while we have no doubt the Galaxy S 5 will dominate it in sales, we feel the all new HTC One will hold its own in 2014, regardless of when it’s announced and released. And its predecessor’s reputation may lend a significant hand in its performance this year.
In that same vein, though, HTC still has a small window of opportunity.
Moving its announcements outside the announcement bubble around MWC, it has a stage to itself and the undivided attention of the press. It doesn’t have to share the spotlight with other companies.
Not to mention, the announcement is scheduled for March 25. The Galaxy S 5 isn’t set to launch until April 14. If HTC plans to release the all new HTC One on or near the one-year anniversary date of the release of the original HTC One, it would be launched within five days of Samsung’s Galaxy S 5. Whether that will happen or not is a complete mystery. Even if HTC waits a full month after the March 25 announcement to launch the all new HTC One, Samsung’s flagship will only have a ten-day head start.
Samsung is already facing a fair amount of adversity from the enthusiast crowd. Throw in the fact that the dual-camera rig on the rear of the all new HTC One has piqued a lot of interest over the last few months, and this is really HTC’s year to lose.