Dear HTC…What Happened?

HTC through the years. From left to right, the HTC Evo, Evo 3D, M7, M8, M9 and HTC 10.

 

HTC recently released their Q2 earnings report, and the results were not positive.  Despite the marked success of the HTC 10 over previous releases and the debut of the HTC Vive, the Taiwanese manufacturer’s numbers show a drop of around 44 percent from this time last year.

This begs the question…will HTC survive another year?  Despite a major restructuring in 2015, improved and diversified product offerings, and a slew of leaks surrounding a pair of HTC-manufactured Nexus devices around the corner, the venerable manufacturer can’t seem to get a leg up on the competition.

So where did HTC go wrong…and what can they do to come back from it?

Personally, I believe HTC began to lose their way right around the time they released the Evo 3D.  At the time, the first-generation Evo was undoubtedly the king of the smartphone world.  It featured top-notch specs, unique and innovative features, and an aesthetic that just screamed “luxurious” for it’s time.  However, the Evo 3D still borrowed heavily from the designs of the Evo, and the gimmick 3D camera and screen were under-utilised by many, and saw nearly zero application development.  The speciality hardware also made custom ROM variants more difficult, as developers could not fully support the features.

There was a definite return to form with the release of the M7, but a trend had already been set with the Evo 3D.  The next few HTC offerings would see sub-par camera hardware as compared to the competition, as well as a bizarre turn in their marketing strategy.  While the M7 was a fantastic device in it’s own right, again, HTC seemed to have already lost their edge.

The M8 was an acceptable refresh, bringing improvements and refinements to the M7 platform, but not really adding any new features that made a huge case for an upgrade.

They followed this trend again with the M9, only now pairing it with the Snapdragon 810 processor, which had it’s own share of issues that required software updates to combat overheating.  Combine that with more underwhelming optics, another lack of new or notable features, and a design that is nearly indistinguishable from the M8, and you have to wonder if HTC just phoned this one in.  (Pun intended)

(It should be noted that this is the point in time where this author made the decision to jump off the HTC bandwagon and run for the Nexus hills.)

The HTC A9 was (is) an abysmal device, with many pointing out the similarities in design to the iPhone – despite the contention that Apple started by borrowing from HTC.  Again, nothing to phone home about, and overall, a nearly incomprehensible marketing decision on HTC’s part.

Fast-forward to today, and the latest flagship in their offerings is the HTC 10.  To be fair, the HTC 10 is a fantastic device from all takes.  It features a QHD screen, top-notch cameras with front and back OIS, killer processor and memory specs, a fingerprint sensor, enhanced DAC, and a slimmed-down version of HTC’s custom Sense UI, which many users found to be refreshing.

However, the question remains – is it enough for HTC to survive?  And not just survive – but become a leading competitor in the smartphone market again?  While they still demonstrate the ability to make premium devices that can compete with the likes of Samsung, Apple, and Sony…is a premium device enough?  Or have years of sub-par design choices, broken promises for update schedules, poor management, and bizarre advertising campaigns left them too far behind to recover?  Will the forthcoming Nexus devices be the bump they need to regain the spotlight, or has the Samsung marketing machine left them irrelevant?  More importantly…should they even bother?

Tell us what you think in the comments section!

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Ben K

Ben is a full-time IT Manager for a major healthcare provider in Milwaukee, WI. When he's not saving the staff at his work from their technology, he can probably be found living as his alter-ego Digitalhigh on XDA-Developer forums, where he has a number of custom ROM releases, as well as other projects. For hobbies, he is also an avid musician, lover of all things technological, and a dedicated father and husband. He also enjoys sunsets, spicy food, and long walks on the beach. XD