HTC surprised a few people last year with a brand spanking new flagship phone for Windows Phone, the HTC One M8 for Windows. It was one of the most beautiful and powerful Windows Phones yet, but it still carried that 4 ultrapixel camera which my bias will not allow me to love. I’m sure it’s great and all, but I just can’t get behind it. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to talk about an entry-level HTC Windows Phone, or two, or three.
To Windows Phone, this was a great move. A new flagship! It helped bolster a strong, but aging lineup of Windows Phones. For HTC it was a smart move because all it had to do was take a One M8 and slap a Windows sticker on it. There may have been a little bit to do on the development side, but it was a pittance compared to a full flagship life cycle. So…now what?
Well, the One M8 isn’t the only phone in HTC’s repertoire. Far from it. It’s a brand new year, and there’s a brand new year of phones that are set to be coming out. Why not expand this little experiment a bit further? Why not add some entry-level Windows Phone candidates to the HTC lineup?
Windows Phone is no stranger to the entry-level camp. The Lumia 635 was the flagship on which Windows Phone 8.1 and Cortana was shipped. Yes, I’m using the term “flagship” very loosely because it was the first phone on which it was launched, but it wasn’t much to write home about. If HTC could launch an entry-level phone or two, it would serve a lot of purposes for Windows Phone.
First, it would help legitimize the platform further. Microsoft is the biggest manufacturer of Windows Phone hardware right now. That’s fine, except it’s like a parent cheering for their kid at a basketball game. They kind of have to whether their kid shoots the ball into the right basket or not. Of course Microsoft is going to continue to support its own platform. But another big player in the smartphone space stepping up to the plate would be huge. Suddenly this isn’t a “have to” situation, it’s a “want to.”
Plus, the same factors that made the One M8 for Windows a good idea apply to the entry-level as well. If the same hardware can run Android and Windows Phone, it can go the other way too. If the phone is designed with both platforms in mind, the transition from Windows Phone to Android can happen just as easily as the other way around if things don’t go well. It’s like a built-in safety net, or what they like to call in the business sector, a low-risk investment. People like low-risk investments, almost as much as they love popcorn and people love popcorn.
Plus, with Nokia’s absorption into Microsoft, there is a bit of a vacuum left over where Nokia was excelling, which is to say Windows Phone hardware champion. It’s true that Microsoft can (and to some degree has) still pick up this torch, but an extra player in the game could bolster the platform and help both players out. If Windows Phone is currently wanting for a hardware champion, why not step up to fill that void. And if Microsoft and HTC want to have a little friendly competition against one another, the users will gain, and that a positive for everyone.
HTC has the name and the brand recognition to really pick up where Nokia left off. Remember, Microsoft will not be using the Nokia branding for future Windows Phones. Microsoft doesn’t really have a lot of brand recognition in this space – not like HTC does. HTC can capitalize on that advantage if it chooses to.
HTC has a low-risk opportunity to carry on a fine tradition of low-, mid- and high-end hardware for Windows Phone. Windows Phone has an opportunity to bring a powerful brand into its catalog of hardware. Both stand to gain quite a bit from this relationship. And heck, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always Android to fall back on. It’s not such a bad position for HTC to be in.