HTC concedes defeat in US tablet space; Samsung, ASUS and Amazon smile

It’s no lie that the Android tablet scene is a tough cookie for OEMs. While Android phones took off with nary a problem, the growth of the tablet side of things has been a little more stagnant. We knew some OEMs were feeling the effects of it, and it appears HTC is the latest. The Taiwanese company has bowed out of the tablet game in the United States for the foreseeable future. HTC might even be the first big OEM to make such a move.

Things started off slow for HTC in the early going. It had a bit of an advantage as the Flyer was one of the first mainstream tablets available that didn’t have the Archos or Coby name slapped on. It seemed the timing was off, however, as Samsung had beaten them to the table and the Flyer launched way too close to Android 3.0. They were too early and too late at the same time.

HTC tried to redeem themselves with the Jetstream, but by that time the Galaxy series had taken off and the company also suddenly found itself contending with very compelling offers from the likes of ASUS with the launch of its Transformer line.

A spokesperson from HTC says the company will play the wait and see approach. The strategy is to take a step back and gauge the market. The company says they don’t want to offer “me, too” experiences just for the sake of competing and would rather wait until they can offer something unique to the masses.

That claim could be challenged a couple of different ways. For starters, HTC did offer something unique at the time it first tried its hand at this growing market. The Flyer showed a lot of promise with its capacative stylus and unique applications that were based on it.

Then, the HTC Jetstream attempted to go bigger and bolder. With the latest version of Android and HTC Scribe support it was sure to be a hit, no? Well, some would say AT&T made a huge blunder by making the stylus take a backseat and with the egregious pricing strategy it employed.

My second point would be to simply look at the phone space. Let’s call a spade a spade, here — that’s about as big of a “me, too” market as you can be involved in. Innovation comes at a premium and the fact of the matter is that there’s very little separating one phone from the next. HTC has no problem competing there, however, because it makes them a ton of dough.

Perhaps the question isn’t whether or not I believe the stance HTC is taking; after all, the job of public relations is to say what you have to say in the least offensive and least self-hurting way possible. But it would be nice to know which side of the “it’s not you, it’s me” shtick they’re on.

Regardless, they’ve let it be known that the market simply isn’t for them right now, and perhaps it’s for the best for both HTC and users of its handsets, Read the full statement below. [via Fierce Wireless, quote source]

“HTC is pleased with the results of our first foray into tablets—the HTC Flyer, EVO View 4G, and HTC Jetstream—and like any products in the mobile space that were release some time ago, our tablets have run through their planned lifecycles. We’re continuing to watch the tablet market very, very closely for the right opportunity to re-enter in a way in which we’re not just offering a “me too” tablet, but a product that’s compelling, differentiated, and inspiring to our customers.”

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  • Tommy Thompson

    They probably could have had a chance if they didn’t overprice their tablets or make them exclusives with carriers.

    • RavenFox

      pretty much.

    • S K

      That’s about all it boils down to. I didn’t even know that HTC had a tablet after the Flyer. The Flyer was a great product for it’s time, but too pricey. If they had continued keeping their tables up to date on spec and lowered the price a bit, they would have been the leader and not a follower. But they seemed to have given up half-way thru and let Samsung take the lead. Samsung pretty much took the Flyer, made its screen 2 inches smaller and made the Galaxy Note.

  • Micha Ols

    LG was the first big player to make the exact same move. They had their 3D Tablet on the market and declared shortly after they realized that they do not sell as many units as their competitors, that they would pull out and watch the market closely to re enter it.
    EDIT: Here, remember the lovely LG Girl? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV4qC08Gfks

    • Tommy Thompson

      And LG made the same mistakes HTC did. Even worse, they made a 3D tablet…

      • Micha Ols

        They made a bold move. No risk no fu… I mean, no pain no gain ;)

        • Tommy Thompson

          A bold move doesn’t equal a good idea. It was a bad idea, they made it even worse when they decided to make it a Tmo exclusive. ;P

          • http://www.facebook.com/AGx07 Chris Brown-Demoreno

            I would have bought one of those back then if it weren’t so pricey.

    • No_Nickname90

      LG had a 3D tablet!? Oh wow… Guess who didn’t know about that? LoL!!

  • http://www.twitter.com/90sRememberer NB

    Given that even Samsung and Asus have what could be considered poor sales, I don’t think this will be the past OEM to bow out

    • http://twitter.com/inguatu ingua2

      poor sales compared to what? They’re doing pretty well actually.

      • http://www.twitter.com/90sRememberer NB

        Samsung: “We’re not doing very well in the tablet market.” http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13970_7-57385739-78/samsung-were-not-doing-very-well-in-the-tablet-market/

        This is the market leader saying they aren’t doing very well.

        The Transformer Prime only sold 2,000 units by March of this year: http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/27/judge-asus-transformer-isnt-infringing-on-hasbros-trademark-and-asus-reveals-embarrassing-sales-stats/

        It’s poor sales compared to anything.

        • Canon User

          Disingenuous post veiled as sincere. That’s 2000 preorders, not 2000 units in actual sales.

          • http://www.twitter.com/90sRememberer NB

            Oh well pardon me, 80,000 shipped is way better. A rousing success.

          • Canon User

            @NB I doubt you’re in a position to judge its success. I wonder how many they planned on selling and thus made, because Asus has seemed to have some supply issues on their tablets for a while. So… I really don’t know, but possibly they do see this as a success

        • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

          That is OOOOLLLLDDDD news. Just recently it was stated that Android is now just a hair under half of the tablet space.

          • Carl Rood

            What does that say about Samsung or Asus? What are the numbers if the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire & Nook are taken out? Those are all devices that bank on content and service sales and therefore subsidize the device. A straight OEM can’t do that.

          • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

            Doesnt change how old that news is. My point, which wasnt well stated, was that the market has changed. Maybe more recent numbers from each manufacturer would help clarify but given that both Asus and Samsung have “doubled down” must mean there is something to be had in that space.

            HTCs troubles are of their own doing.

  • Alejandro

    Seems smart gracious and humble. Apple could take a note from the and stop acting like they’re the only company offering mobile devices and just try to be more innovative

    • Michael Thompson

      This is about HTC.
      Ford vs Chevy-isms demean us all.

      • http://twitter.com/inguatu ingua2

        luckily the Ford vs Chevy thing has no baring on what he said.

  • Mike Reid

    LOL, it starts with a lie:

    “HTC is pleased with the results of our first foray into tablets…”

  • a) youth.in.asia

    Make some HTC software, a few great apps that are exclusive to the tablet, have pop-out stylus, nice crisp screen, no exclusives, and most important… 10 hour battery life, I don’t care if it has beats by Dre on it, make it last!

  • http://twitter.com/inguatu ingua2

    yet they have no problem with the myriad of phones they put out? After all, a table is just a phone with a larger screen… essentially the same OS. If they are conceding defeat with tablets, it’s safe to say people should be wary of buying their phones too.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AGx07 Chris Brown-Demoreno

      If not for the fact that they put “Sense” on every damn thing, I’d buy an HTC over most because their build quality is so good. Unfortunately, I hate Sense and I have “having to root”. To me, they haven’t had a perfect phone since the Nexus One. Everything since seems to be a step below the competition.

  • DonMcCall

    The problem with HTC to me is that there isn’t just one problem. I say their problem is threefold:

    1) They keep releasing carrier exclusives when it is increasingly clear that you have to release your flagships on more than one carrier to have a shot unless your device is CLEARLY superior to the competition. Examples: look at Samsung and how they released the GS series and now the GN2. Even LG is releasing the Optimus G on AT&T and Sprint (and I wish it would come to T-Mobile!). Part of this is out of their hands, but if they truly made a world-beating phone the carriers would snatch it up.

    2) They tend to skimp in some areas. Look at the One X for example. Small, non-removable battery. No SD card, but no large amount of onboard storage available to alleviate that issue. Half the memory of its top competition, so they had to adjust the multitasking settings. Look at the Flyer with Gingerbread, when as an OHA member they had to know Honeycomb was coming soon. There always seems to be something. It does no good to have great features if you have letdowns in others compared to the competition. They have to be clearly equal if not superior, as they price their devices as such.

    3) They have to focus more on software. Sense originally had many innovations, but now I would believe many buyers would agree TouchWiz adds a lot more to the table (Gingerbread looking UI nonetheless). Others would rather just go with stock Android. HTC however seems to be trying to be like Apple and focus on aesthetics more than functionality. That only works when there is no direct competition: the reason Apple will never license iOS to other companies to make devices.

    If I can go to Samsung, Motorola, LG, etc. and get a better handset or tablet that looks just (or almost) as good with more functionality for a cheaper price on my existing carrier then I’m going to do it. Most others will as well. When HTC figures this out their fortunes will change…but I’m not holding my breath anymore.

    • Magnus100

      By the time they realize it, they’ll be filing for bankruptcy!

    • bluevoodo

      Eugh!!!!! Touch Wiz adds something? Just a confusing mess, no thanks.

      • http://www.facebook.com/abdeali.verda Abdeali Verda

        they did add 1 major thing ..widget toggle bar in notification pull down bar..which is basically on every custom rom & most other devices right now .aslo taking screenshot by default 1st implemented by samsung only …& many other minor things i dont recollect right now….

        • Tarik Husejinovic

          I could be wrong, but I believe the LG G2x was the first to have native screenshot capability.

      • http://www.facebook.com/AGx07 Chris Brown-Demoreno

        If you owned a GS3 you would truly enjoy TouchWiz. I was always a “Vanilla or Bust” Android buyer until I caved and bought a GS3. I rooted it and got a vanilla ROM on it but at the same time I was able to play with my GF’s GS3 (unrooted). All the Motion features, lockscreen features, toggles, camera app (is awesome btw), very smooth. Can’t pretend that its “better” than vanilla but suffice to say that a lot of those small features add up and even converted me.

        • Cipher Zero

          I didn’t enjoy it at all. I may have hated very slightly less than previous iterations of TW, but I, personally, hate it. It had to go, and away it went.

      • DavidVarghese

        Lmao that’s how I feel with touchwiz

    • ari_free

      The memory management is a major dealbreaker because the OS doesn’t work as you expect.

  • bobdude5

    Are you kidding me? They didnt even try -___- They released two tablets. The flyer, which did okay but didnt even have the right OS, and the jetstream, a stupidly expensive AT&T “4g” tablet that could be found nowhere but an At&t store. Both were great looking tablets with nice build quality but how they implemented the launch of each was awful. All they have to do is release a slim tablet with a stylus and good build quality and price it around $450-500. Not 800 -____-

    • ari_free

      You can’t just ‘add’ a stylus. You need software for it. Samsung is pushing for stylus apps.

  • NIGHTSCOUT

    Dear HTC: your tablets were priced too high. WIFI only tablets sold better than 4G tablets. Should have thought about that.

  • AJA0

    They had a chance to develop the Nexus 7 tablet, they actually turned it down. It’s their own fault that they failed.

    • PuzzledObserver

      Oh wow, I didn’t know that. That is stupid of them if this were true.

    • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

      Where did you see this? Most reports were that ASUS already had the product and Google snapped it up.

      • AJA0

        Phandroid mentioned it. When Google was in the talks of making a Tablet, HTC had the chance to be the manufacturer, but they didn’t want to “ruin their brand name” by releasing a ‘cheap’ (inexpensive) tablet.

  • Savdini101

    HTC makes beautiful, quality, handsets, they should concentrate on that. Leave the tablet market alone.

    They should make a 3 part line up of a single device. HTC 4, 5, 6 Series.. (yes like BMWs), the number indicates screen size and always make them cutting edge, top notch devices. And launch on yearly cycle on all or most carriers.

    Give users the option of with sense or without sense upon initial boot up. So they can keep designs nice and consistent. No wacky specialty devices (Evo 3D…)

    • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

      What they should do is make beautiful, quality hardware. Handset or tablet, and give up on their horrible software that caused the failure of their tablet in the first place.

  • ari_free

    The flyer was a failure not because of specs or OS but because it didn’t even come with the stylus. You had to buy it separately. That’s like Nintendo trying to sell a wii without the motion controller.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danjeremybrady Dan Jeremy Brady

    Asus (Google) & Samsung look to be the only real Android tablet manufacturers. Otherwise you might as well grab a Chinese tablet like the Ainol Aurora II (decent dual core for around $120) or a Kindle Fire, if you like Amazon that much to be stuck in it’s ecosystem unless you root and re-ROM.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AGx07 Chris Brown-Demoreno

      Since the N7 came out you couldn’t pay me to buy a Kindle.

      • Carl Rood

        The N7 is the same model as the Kindle. Lose money or break even on the device while banking on content and storage sales for the real profits. HTC can’t do that. Unless they get Google to subsidize a Nexus tablet of their own, why sell a device you can’t make a profit on?

    • ludist210

      Don’t forget the Notion Ink Adam! You know, the tablet this website inexplicably had a bromance with…

  • Carl Rood

    I think the main problem is probably the margins involved. Since phones are heavily subsidized in the US, it’s possible to compete. Tablets weren’t subsidized and much and now aren’t at all. With Amazon, B&N, and Google selling low priced tablets with the promise of making money on content and services, it’s going to be hard for a pure hardware manufacturer to make a profit just on the device. Apple has a name that gets people to pay more for their products, like it or not, but even they are banking on content and services for the real money.

    OEMs are forced to price match to get sails, but that cuts into profit.

  • ChicagoBob

    If they offered a Wi-Fi 7inch tablet with better resolution than the Nexus 7,HDMI out , Micro SD slot along with the ability to connect OTG USB and the price point about 250 or below then they are in the game in a big way. EVERYONE I know is dissatisfied with the CLOUD concept. The tablets are powerful enough to make them fun but the lack of easy expansion is quite disappointing. To get this kind of tablet you have to get a 10inch tablet and pay from 5 to 700 dollar range. Bummer. I was hoping to swap my daughters old tablet for a new one but I dont see that happening this year. I just dont see a reason to do this.