HTC changed course a little bit this year. In the past, when other OEMs announced their flagship phones at MWC, HTC was right there along side of them announcing its own flagship. This year, it went a different direction. When the world was introduced to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, and the LG G5, with an honorable mention going to the Sony Xperia Performance, there was no HTC flagship to be seen, opting instead for a later announcement at its own venue several weeks from now, possibly April 11. Instead, HTC did unveil a few midrange smartphones in its Desire collection. Nice, but not sexy.
So, did HTC make a mistake this year by holding back? That’s the kind of question we tackle here at the offices of the Weekend Debate, so let’s dive right in, shall we?
Learning from past mistakes
On the one hand, HTC’s past has not always been the ideal way to introduce a smartphone. We’ve said it before, but announcing your flagship along with everyone else’s flagship is a great way to get lost in the crowd. You find yourself as part of a list, rather than the headliner for your own concert. When you hold your own event, you get to control a lot of the conversation. You have the world’s attention focused just on you and no one else gets to cut in on that action.
Every year, HTC has gotten a little press of its own before jumping right in to the comparisons. HTC never really held its own spotlight, instead sharing it with the other kids at the big boys table. Well, this year, that will not be the case. This year, HTC will have its own event where it can more effectively relay its message and stand apart from the crowd.
But is that necessarily the best thing for HTC right now? After all, if the April 11th debut rumors are true, HTC will be introducing its flagship after the release of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, and right around the same neighborhood as the LG G5. Just so we’re clear – those are the dates that the Galaxy phones and LG G5 are available to buy. If the HTC rumors are true, HTC’s phone won’t be out for a solid month after that. So, sure HTC will have it’s own event, but chances are we’ll be publishing reviews of its competition before we know anything for sure about what HTC has to offer.
Will HTC be fashionably late to this party? Or will the party have already run out of food, the band will be playing its last song, and uncle Bill will already be stumbling around drunk asking people if they’d seen his Steven Colbert impression? Even more importantly, did I take this metaphor too far? Almost certainly. But as for HTC, it does beg the question of how much interest will be left in new Android smartphones by the time HTC announces, let alone launches. Samsung is going to sell a ton of phones; there isn’t much room for debate there. But HTC has traditionally been the first Samsung alternative, but it could be losing that title to LG if its not careful.
HTC could be failing to become that alternative because Samsung is shipping its flagships even before HTC gets to make a case. If there are people just waiting to upgrade to the latest and greatest, HTC is missing that boat, by a pretty big margin.
Good idea, bad timing
As for me, I think HTC did the right thing, by not announcing at MWC. There were just too many other phones coming out for HTC to make a real splash. That being said though, I think April 11 is way too late. Actually, any time after Samsung goes on sale is way too late. Even if there are supply chain problems or something else making it impossible to ship until early May, delaying the announcement of the phone until after your main competitor starts shipping is a mistake, if you ask me.
But what about you? If you are sitting in the big chair for HTC, when would you announce your latest flagship? Would you drop at Barcelona, along with the rest of the field and while the world’s attention was calling? Would you wait until mid-April to get the word out? There are a lot of possible answers to this question, so let’s hear what you think. The comments await your words, so write them below, and let’s see if we can figure this out.