HTC today announced the “HTC Advantage,” a new benefits package for buyers of its flagship smartphones. The new initiative is custom-built to ensure that “when you buy the best, it stays that way,” says HTC’s VP of Customer Experience Ed Kuhner.
The program is made up of three principle prongs, with the first being something we’ve seen signs of already: a commitment to timely Android updates for the flagship One line. The company has demonstrated it can deliver updates to the One series in a timely fashion, and HTC now says it will commit to major Android updates for two years after the launch of a product – a tidbit it leaked in its Reddit AMA last week. Asked to clarify what a “major” update was, HTC said that a “dessert flavor change” was considered major: Jelly Bean to Kit Kat would be covered, for example, but a more incremental upgrade like 4.4 to 4.4.1 would not be guaranteed.
The company also plans to continue offering HTC Backup, a service that saves personalized user data including “accounts, apps, bookmarks, home screen layout, settings, and widgets,” among others, for quick restoration after a customer changes devices. There’s not much new here -customers still get access to 25-50GB of cloud storage in concert with Google Drive when they buy a One-series device- but HTC Backup will come in quite handy to those who take advantage of the final, most important feature of HTC Advantage: free cracked-display replacement.
Broken phone screen? No problem
Under the new warranty, which applies to One-series devices purchased on or after today’s date, HTC will repair a customer’s cracked screen at no cost, so long as it hasn’t been more than six months since the original purchase. All a customer need do is ship the broken phone to the company’s Houston-based repair center and he or she will receive a replacement unit, for free, within a few days. If time is of the essence, the customer also has the option of paying $29 for a replacement device to be overnighted instead. In either case, an HTC customer care rep will be available to talk the customer through a backup if possible, so that the replacement phone can be quickly restored upon arrival.
HTC was keen to stress that, while some carriers may market the HTC Advantage as a selling point, this is not a carrier-related offering or service plan; rather, it’s an expansion of HTC’s warranty for the One family. And speaking of “One” – that’s exactly how many times you’re allowed to break your screen and get a free repair: once. Still, from a cost standpoint, HTC’s new offering compares very favorably with Apple’s iPhone screen repair program, the newest iteration of which advertises a “while you wait” repair at the Apple store, but only once you cough up $149 – and then only if you carry the iPhone 5c.
Note that the HTC Advantage plan is an offer from HTC Americas: while the company would not rule out eventually expanding it beyond the U.S. (and perhaps beyond the One line), at the moment it remains confined to those arenas. And while HTC was coy about whether this initiative would extend to the forthcoming M8 flagship, the company did say it was planning for HTC Advantage to be around for a few years at least.
Clearly, HTC is trying to push the “surprise and delight” angle here – and a timely Android update schedule mated to the promise of a free screen repair is certainly a potent cocktail. It’ll be interesting to see what effect HTC Advantage has on the company’s device sales in the long term (and what actions carriers take to position their insurance plans against it), but in the here and now, we think this is a pretty solid foundation on which to sell the next generation of HTC flagship.
Full press release below.