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HTC: “we took our eye off the ball” in 2013; expect focus on mid-range devices to return

HTC made a bold statement last year when they decided to ditch their mid-range and entry-level focus in order to push one premium smartphone series. That series was the HTC One, alongside its decidedly smaller brother HTC One Mini, and the bigger brother known as the HTC One Max. Aside from those three devices, HTC has only released and advertised a smattering of mid-range options for developing markets.

So how has it worked out for them? Well, not at all, actually. An HTC executive has admitted that the company’s decision to move away from offering mid-range devices was a pretty big mistake.

htc generator

“We took our eyes somewhat off the ball,” said HTC CFO Chang Chialin via Bloomberg. It lead to declining revenue overall, and was the cause of HTC experiencing their first ever consecutive non-profitable quarters back in Q3 2013. HTC expects more of the same for the quarter ahead, and they look to be in scramble mode to get back to former glory.

Not lost on HTC is the importance in streamlining their portfolio, but the company has realized that they simply aren’t big enough to push just one hot smartphone. Even Samsung has been hesitant to abandon their strategy of filling out all sectors of the smartphone market, with the company offering phones and tablets for any budget.

htc change adSomething Samsung also seems to have gotten right that HTC didn’t is marketing. The Taiwanese company’s bold $1 billion bid for Robert Downey Jr’s services in their late 2013 marketing efforts seems to have proven fruitless.

As it turns out, the world doesn’t care about seeing the man who plays Ironman thrust into wacky situations where ugly little green goblins wash ugly little cars — they want you to sell them a phone that they can buy.

While some may dread a possible decision by HTC to return to their “spaghetti to the wall” methods of yesteryear, an increased focus on the mid-range market doesn’t have to be all bad. Samsung has proven that it’s still possible to deliver the goods for folks willing to pay a premium while offering suitable options for those whose wallets are a bit smaller.

The key will be in HTC’s marketing effort, and seeing if the company can restore the same confidence people had in their brand back in the earlier parts of this current century. Let’s hope they can begin to right the ship with the launch of the HTC M8 (the codename for the supposed sequel to the HTC One).

[via HTC]




  • Matchstick

    A potential problem with the change of direction is that phones like the N4/5 and Moto G means HTC can’t get away with the lacklustre and now overpriced mid-range handsets they’ve sold in the past.

    Are they in a position to up their mid-range game sufficiently while still keeping the price down ?

  • bblande

    Smh I don’t get it. I thought they made too many “cheap” phones in 2012 and wanted to make a statement in 2013 with the One. I got the One in November and it’s easily the best phone I’ve owned. It’s so good, I’m not even going to root it like I did my past two Android phones.

    • cns2007

      I don’t think their problem was too many cheap phones exactly, just too many phones in general with little difference between them spec-wise.

      I think they can find success if they focus their strategy to 3 strong options; low-, mid- and high-end.

      • WhoaManWtF

        Or just mid and high, they need to just get rid of low end phones and make mid affordable like the Nexus line. No one deserves a budget android experience.

        • On2Vegas

          Moto G is a great example of a good android experience on a budget phone. I think HTC certainly has the ability to produce a good low end phone.

  • http://thebeeobee.com/ thebeeobee

    HAHAHAHA. The moron author of this blog used to defend HTC to me and every article justifies my stance. Clueless company.

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      Wait, what? When have I ever defended HTC? Not that they they need defending anyway — they’re still a fine company.

  • Jay

    While they’re at it they need to go back to being that developer friendly, SD card supporting, and removable battery friendly oem we all used to know.

    I hope the days of trying to be an Apple wannabe are over.

    • DavidVarghese

      So unibody and a solid build quality = Apple? I sure hope not.

    • xanok

      They are developer friendly.

    • Roaduardo

      Storage wars! Hehe.. But seriously, Micro SD support and removable batteries is such a great option to consumers. Why are options a bad thing? Why the aggressive push to cloud storage? Cloud storage will NEVER be as reliable as having your data stored locally on your device. It’s supreme control. Supreme control over your media files and other data. It’s a wonderful thing.

  • jackdubl

    HTC seems to have no idea what it needs to do. I’ll tell them: differentiate yourselves by providing removable batteries and sdcard expansion. That would get you some instant buyers.

    • Panchito

      Exactly!! Or make something extreme like include in their phones a great camera with lots of megapixels like the nokia on create an extremely huge internal memory like 500GB.. lots of ways to innovate.. the smartphone arena is not perfect yet and there are lots of opportunities for others if they make things better

  • Aar0nC

    its sad that they have absolutely no clue what to do, but wait…they could listen to smart phone user to get ideas what we want and build that…but nah… being clueless and losing cash at the end of every fiscal period is so much easier instead…

  • bob

    They’ve made similar comments every year for the last three years. I think they should just focus on making a more affordable OFF contract higher end device.

  • mamemame187

    They didn’t release any/much mid range – low end devices in North America, so they lost a lot of market. I hope they get it right this year.

  • John Smith

    HTC’s CEO has been asleep at the wheel since 2010. he takes no responsibility and has never been held accountable. is he f*****g Cher? do you hear me Chou??????????????

    • Ben Edwards

      Didn’t he say he would step down if the One wasn’t a success? While the phone itself has received critical acclaim, what are the sales like?

      • xanok

        The phone is their best seller of all time, something like 5M in the first month of sales, but that’s still easily less than half of what the GS4 has sold I’d bet.

    • Henri Weich Conradie

      Calm down, Jodie Foster. Chou didn’t rape you. Stop freaking out like he did.

  • shooter50

    DOA

  • EasyEEE

    Naming convention and marketing, period.

    You have to be able to sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman wearing white gloves

  • UMA_Fan

    Apples gravy is selling that 64GB iPhone for nearly $1,000 retail. Why are these OEMs letting Apple play this BS game with storage? I guarantee that a high end android phone with like 200GB of storage for $600 retail would convince some iPhone users to switch over.

  • http://www.newportessentials.com/ paco cornholio

    “We couldn’t sell high-end phones after starting with an Android first-mover advantage and then shipping the most beautiful Android phone ever built, so we’ve decided to move into a lower-margin market segment and become totally dependent on the carriers who screwed us in the first place. May the good Sundar Pichai have mercy on our souls.”

  • Mikey Styles

    Unless there is some real change for the better in HTC HQ my thoughts are(Samsung isn’t excluded either)………

  • Trysta

    If they’re returning to midrange they need to still make it available on all carriers. That was one thing the HTC One got very right.

    And please don’t skimp on ram. You can get away with a cheaper processor, cheaper screen and cheaper build materials, even a cheaper camera and still have a pretty decent smartphone experience but you don’t need to be a smarphone enthusiast to notice when your phone stutters every time you hit the home button. Ram and decent battery life should be nailed always or people won’t want to buy your next phone.

    Personally i also think HTC needs to build another Nexus phone. It does wonders for free advertising as well as keeping you in the tech news. One of HTC’s issues in 2013 was they released the HTC One very early and then there was nothing else worth talking about coming out of that company. Granted not releasing a new phone every 3 months is commendable but it was harder for HTC to stay in people’s minds for the remainder of the year.

    • xanok

      I hate to tell ya, but no one gives a damn about Nexus phones outside of people that frequent Android websites and people that are using prepaid carriers. It’s a drop in the bucket overall compared to Galaxy and even One sales.

      HTC at least recognized their marketing problem last year, but it turned out shitty. All they had to do was put that phone in RDJ’s hands and that at least would have made people notice. But nooooo. Here’s a big ass tinfoil boat. *eye roll*
      It pains me because I love my One and I will probably consider the next iteration of it. But until they get phones in people’s hands, which isn’t happening, they are going down the drain.

  • bvoak

    Marketing is their problem in my opinion. Samsung hammers marketing with endless commercials and ads. not so with HTC. I own the One and love it. Unfortunately, most of the market don’t know the first thing about the technology, so only buy what they’re familiar with.

  • Tojen1981

    HTC needs a minimum of 2 devices a year to right the ship.

    1. Flagship phone (q1 release)
    2. Flagship phablet (q3 release)

    Give us the SD card back as well and removable battery

    Start running some nexus 7 style commercials that show people using your phones in everyday situations.

  • Tony Lai

    I dont know why hTC hired Mr. Iron Man…. I have never seen the ads on TV or anywhere else.

  • Rob Schoenfeld

    HTC needs a new CEO.