Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

Summary: HTC's latest financials paint a dismal picture for the Android smartphone king, and promise more problems in the near future. Are Android phone buyers getting tired of more of the same?

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Smartphone maker HTC was early on the Android train and rode it to the top of the hill. Recently that trend has begun to change with company smartphone sales dropping precipitously and HTC warning of further drops in store. How does a company at the top drop so fast, and is this something other phone makers should find concerning? There's not a clear-cut answer but HTC did do some things that I believe contributed to the downfall.

HTC started out in the Android space by making some quality smartphones, proudly displaying the distinctive Sense interface that set them apart from the crowd. The black and white clock along with the curved launch bar found on every HTC phone said "HTC" as clearly as the company logo on the handsets.

The Sense interface is something that you either love or you hate. I've heard from both camps over the past few years and it's a personal thing. Some folks love the way Sense looks little like stock Android while others find fault with that. The latter camp has gotten even more vocal with distaste of the Sense interface as the stock Android interface has evolved over time.

The Honeycomb (Android 3.x) interface was more visually refined than previous versions of Android, and the new Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4.x) even more so. Google has improved the stock Android interface to be visually appealing to most people, and that's a bad thing for HTC.

The company has retained its Sense interface on all its phones, and some folks who like the looks of it now like the Android interface better. HTC doesn't allow owners of its phones to turn Sense off, so there is no straightforward way to get a more Android looking interface on those phones. Other OEMs with custom skins have toned those down to make their interface look more like stock Android, but not HTC.

It also hasn't helped HTC that it produces so many different phone models. It seems every few weeks a new HTC phone is released, not that much different than all the other models already in the market. They look basically the same physically, and with that unchanging Sense interface appear to be just one more phone. This has happened so often that the company's phone image has changed from "wow" in the early Android days to "meh" currently.

It doesn't help HTC that those who like the distinctive yet dated appearance of the Sense interface can make phones from any OEM look that way. There have long been widgets and apps in the Android Market that can turn any Android phone into an HTC look-alike. You don't need an HTC phone to look like you have one.

As it realized its image was slipping HTC tried strange things to deal with the situation. The huge investment in the Beats Audio technology made many scratch their heads at the time as it didn't seem to be something Android phone buyers would really value. Outside of the HTC Rezound phone, the Beats technology hasn't made much noise in the Android smartphone space, and not much even with that handset.

See also: Should HTC blow up Sense? CNET

Roger Cheng of CNET contends that the Sense interface is now dated and contributing to HTC's problems in the market, and while he may be right I think it goes deeper than that. It's a case where branding through the interface appearance may not be a good thing with too many different phones released by HTC all looking alike. What originally was perceived as innovative now seems commonplace.

Of interest:

Topics: HTC, Android, Google, Mobility, Telcos

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30 comments
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  • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

    They should drop the Andyroid crap and focus on WP 7. It only makes sense to go with the winner, as WP 7 will be on 400 million+ phones by June 2013.
    Who saw this coming?
    Stephen-B
    • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

      @Stephen-B

      I agree. HTC should focus on Windows Phone and ditch Android. The Titan is such a great phone compared to the rest of the HTC lineup.
      smulji
    • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

      @Stephen-B
      +1
      vivianvein
    • Can I play too??

      Yay Microsoft! Yay! Yay! Yay!

      Microsoft, Microsoft, Siss! Boom! Bah!
      Microsoft... hey, my fingers are caught in this sock.
      Robert Hahn
    • @Rick_Kl: you caught a bigger fish with this one

      Robert Hahn is a good catch. Come on Stephen-B, time to bring back your Rick_Kl login and then you and Robert can bash Microsoft together. It is what you 2 love doing the best.

      Edit: I give you full credit, you even caught GoPower with this one. Fantastic job with your reverse trolling.
      toddybottom_z
    • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

      @Stephen-B HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! When will they be on 400 Million devices?
      slickjim
    • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

      @Stephen-B

      Only you. My Samsung Epic 4G with Android 2.3.6 is running along very nicely, especially as a game phone. My wife's HTC 4G Shift though is another matter.
      DonRupertBitByte
    • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

      @Stephen-B .. Meh, NOT !!
      400+million phones ?? I doubt you will see 100 million phones by 2016 ..
      1st off .. Windows 8 with Metro has to be a proven success for WP7 or 8 to get anywhere near the numbers Android and Iphone sales are achieving today.
      Yes WP7.5 is a great OS, but to make it a better more successful OS, it needs to fully integrate into Win8 when it finally releases ..
      Until then, you are living in a dream world dude (with 1.5% of the market share ... )
      CND-Dude
    • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

      HTC have already confirmed there will be less phones this year, they've released they released way to many in 2011. It'll be less phones but the ones released will be "Hero" phones as they call them.

      You've not mentioned the main reason why HTC are struggling. The competition has caught up and in the case of Samsung, over taken it. HTC did well in 2009 because nothing compared to the Hero, the Galaxy S was a good phone in 2010 but it was no Desire (or Incredible for you guys), in 2011 the Desire S/Incredible S (Incredible 2 in The US) had to compete with the Galaxy S2. HTC realised this and released the Sensation but it was late and the S2's hardware simply trumped it.

      I used to love Sense and some ways still do but I've come to realise it's a case of style over substance. Samsung's TouchWiz can do the same and more as Sense but with a stronger phone around it.

      Since then Samsung has released the Galaxy Note and the best HTC can do is the Sensation XL (Europe, 4.7" screen) and HTC Rezound (US, 4.3" screen still) to compete.

      The HTC Rezound is a beafed up Sensation, just like the Sensation XE and Sensation XL are. They don't push things forward like the Note does, as it happens I think the Note is much to big but it is a bold move on Samsung's part.
      bradavon
  • Stephen-B be sure to come back in June of 2013

    to eat a huge pile of crow!
    GoPower
    • Why would Rick_Kl eat crow?

      @GoPower
      You do realize that he is an Apple fanboi that is deeply unsatisfied that he can't find any MS fanbois so he is forced to make one up, don't you?

      Wait, you didn't get that? Oh. That's. Embarrassing. For you.
      toddybottom_z
      • Loose socks

        It's not that there are no Microsoft fanboys, it's that they are sick fanboys. We all lose.
        Robert Hahn
      • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

        @toddybottom_z being you have more iJunk than I do, who's really the (Cr) Apple fanboi? I honestly believe you're this Rick-Kl character, as you're all to quick to accuse others of being him.
        Stephen-B
  • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

    No, not at all... The EVO to this day remains the only device many companies make the same accessories for as they did for the iPhone 4/s.

    Now, while it is getting long in the tooth, the problem has been that the EVO 3D tried to ride the 3D Gimmick and it failed but, the Rezound is actually a very solid successor to the EVO (I know it is on a different network but still) and as it gets more exposure, more people will jump on board.
    slickjim
    • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

      @Peter Perry: I have the EVO 3D--got it for the bigger battery and dual-core processor, not the 3D. Solid phone and tons better than the Samsung Moment POS I had before. I had a Samsung flip phone about 8 years ago and they were both junk.

      You are right, you can find accessories for it like you can with the iPhones.

      Sense isn't bad; it might pale compared to ICS but for a Gingerbread phone it's a nice plus.
      jabster17
  • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

    I would prefer to see the Nexus phones from HTC rather than Samsung. I'm not a fan of Sense.
    wormdood@...
  • Microsoft?

    How about being one of the first to fall to Microsoft's bullying and paying Microsoft to not sue it? That's an issue that turns 'techies' away then add on a no stand out phone for the non-techies and viola you have HTC. Hopefully they end up seeing their errors and figure out how to build great products once again.
    BorgX
    • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

      @BorgX The Rezound is a great product!

      No joke, I just clocked 31200 kbps Down and 12000 kbps up with my Rezound LTE...

      As for the sound, the Beats tech sucks in stand alone headphones but the EQ Tech works great with any beats headphones and it is even better with my Sennheisers! The iBeats are actually pretty good as well and don't cause any ear pain.

      The Display is a beauty to look at and at 720P you're not seeing any distortion or pixelization of images.

      Also, the phone may not be clocking the highest benchmarks but, it is very quick and smooth!

      Bottom Line, HTC Needs to get the Rezound on every network because I honestly believe it will take off with more exposure.
      slickjim
  • Perhaps quality is driving people away from HTC?

    The last three smartphones in our household were the HTC Herald, HTC Rhodium and HTC HD2. While we liked all three phones, all three of them had hardware failures within 1.5 years of their purchase. The standard warranty is 1 year, and the contracts on these phone was two years, so this put us in a bind when the phones died. I paid an ETF when my Rhodium died and my wife stubbornly used her HD2 in speakerphone-only mode for four months until her contract ended.

    When it came time for us to buy new phones, both of us couldn't bring ourselves to buy HTC phones again given our experience with them.

    Perhaps we were just unlucky and HTC phones are just as reliable as other makers, but if the problems we had are indicative of a larger pattern it could one reason HTC is losing market share.

    We both have Samsung phones now. Who knows how long they will last (my Epic is 9 months old now); Hopefully longer than our HTC phones did.
    toadlife
    • RE: Is the Android crowd tired of HTC?

      @toadlife <br><br>And just after I shot my mouth off, I found a reliability survey that reted HTC phone very high in reliability. Hmmmm.<br><br>Of course, the survey only measured failure within one year.
      toadlife