If you can find the energy to remember, you will know that HTC was once one of the biggest mobile phone manufacturers and brands in the world. Over the last decade the company has drifted into obscurity with a string of failed releases and appalling marketing campaigns. HTC is, of course, hoping for an eventual comeback, however, if the latest financial results are anything to go by there is a mountain to climb to get there.
In October 2019, HTC scraped together a total of NT$656 million ($21.59 million) in revenue and while smartphones are understood to have contributed to a large percentage of that number, even more so than the brand’s VIVE virtual reality division, it’s still not something that could be considered a positive.
A few short months ago the company introduced a range of budget devices in select markets. Despite this, HTC’s results took a further nosedive in October. The aforementioned sales figure represents a massive drop of 48.58% when compared to September, where the brand generated NT$1.275 billion ($41.96 million), not to mention an even larger year-on-year decline of 49.84% from NT$1.307 billion ($43.01 million) from October 2018.
HTC openly stated its plan for 2019 which was to focus on turning a profit and trying to claw back some market share in the smartphone segment. Sadly, this hasn’t played out as expected. The company, however, does now have a new CEO who seems much more optimistic about the company’s future.
A source within HTC’s headquarters in Taiwan told me that “It’s challenging for us to compete without the top talents in the market,” an obvious nod towards the selling of the engineering team to Google at the beginning of 2018.
They continued to tell me that “currently, focus is on Viveport, new VR product launches like Cosmos, 5G hub and Exodus.” They also joked that there has been no word of any mobile devices and that they are all still waiting for the “next exciting thing.”
Take what you like from that short conversation but it just doesn’t feel as though there is going to be a sudden surge in activity from HTC’s mobile teams any time soon.
HTC is expected to return to the premium smartphone category with a 5G flagship in developed markets such as the US, UK, and Europe. However, the company current strategy of buying time with mid-range and budget smartphones just to keep the lights on doesn’t seem to be working out.