HTC excels at smartphone design, needs to excel in profits in 2013

HTC excels at smartphone design, needs to excel in profits in 2013

Summary: HTC is proving over and over that they can design gorgeous, desirable smartphones and fell hard in 2012 after a very successful 2011. Hopefully they can take their design leadership and translate that into sales in 2013.

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HTC excels at smartphone design, needs to excel in profits in 2013

As we approach the end of the year, it's a time to reflect on the past and hope for the future. I have enjoyed using HTC products since the first Compaq iPaq back in 2000 and don't like hearing the repeated news of falling profits and revenue like we saw in 2012 and hope to see a change of direction in their profits in 2013. It's important to have competition in the mobile space to push others to improve and while I enjoy using Samsung products like my Note II, I also want to see HTC compete for customers. Whenever I compare HTC's products to others, I come away impressed by their stellar designs and wonder why they are not rolling in the profits like they were just a year ago when it seemed they couldn't be stopped. Their current crop of Android and Windows Phones are some of the best designs I have seen in the smartphone world and they are improving in optics, software, and battery life.

Back in May I wrote that the HTC One X was the best HTC device I have ever used and for the last couple of weeks I have been using the upgraded HTC One X+. The One X+ improves on a fantastic device with a faster processor, more internal storage, and a larger battery and I really have a tough time setting it down. I don't notice much of a difference in the processor performance, but I am not seeing long pauses when I jump around the interface like I started to see on the One X. The larger battery is definitely noticeable as I am now able to go a full day with reserve battery available. The storage improvement is important for devices with an image and video focus too as I do run out of memory with the Droid DNA as I capture video.

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HTC's 8X, Droid DNA, and One X+ have great curves, sleek use of front glass panels, amazing displays, and designs that make you want to flip their devices over and over in your hand. I think anyone who uses these devices will agree that these three designs are absolutely amazing and are better than most other smartphones available today. So if the designs are so good, why are they not selling more?

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When looking at Windows Phone devices, the two premier choices in the US are the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC 8X. HTC finally scored here by releasing the 8X on all three Windows Phone carriers so you can pick one up on T-Mobile, AT&T, or Verizon. The Lumia 920 is only available on AT&T. You may have read that I had an extremely difficult time choosing between these two and didn't even get my own Lumia 920 until this past weekend and also have an 8X that Steve Ballmer gave to attendees at the launch event. I bounce my SIM between the two because the HTC 8X design is so compelling while the Lumia 920 has so many other added features (Nokia Music, Nokia Drive, exclusive Nokia apps, fantastic camera technology). With HTC's design, I would like to see just a bit more inside, including 32GB of memory, to choose it over the Lumia 920.

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Samsung rules the Android market at this time and I think their success can be partially attributed to getting solid devices out across all the carriers at once. HTC is still more of a boutique manufacturer with their Android devices appearing on different carriers in different flavors (varied designs, specifications, and names). HTC has long catered to the carriers' desires, the used to make devices that were carrier branded, and continues to work to please carriers. Samsung and Apple apparently have more power to wield over carriers and HTC has to walk a fine line between being demanding and also finding a niche to satisfy the carriers.

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Along with carrier relationships, I think HTC needs to work harder with carriers to get timely updates out to their devices. I have to honestly say I would not buy an HTC device expecting that it will get an upcoming Android update. If you are a tech savvy person, then you can always root your device and hack updates on to it. I used to do this all the time, but no longer want to spend time doing that and want the most stable device possible with minimal effort. Samsung doesn't have the greatest record for Android updates either, but they have gotten a lot better and again I think it goes back to having the same base device across all carriers. Tomorrow my multi-view update for the Galaxy Note II starts rolling out on T-Mobile so I get a nice Christmas present from Samsung and T-Mobile.

I want to see HTC turn things around in a big way in 2013 and I think a lot of that depends on the success of Windows Phone 8. The new One X+ is an amazing Android device and a release on T-Mobile and Verizon might help HTC too. Are you a fan of HTC designs? What do you think HTC needs to do to achieve success again?

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Topics: Mobility, HTC, Smartphones

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16 comments
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  • Wish them more success

    HTC was in the forefront of Smart phone technology right from the Windows mobile days, they used to sell unbranded WM phones to carriers...HTC phones were the ones which popularlized androdid as well... but Samsung stole their android lunch.

    HTC has a big oppurtunity with WP8... create a brand like Samsung galaxy or Nokia Lumia.
    Owlll1net
    • Hoping for HTC. Their build quality is so much better than samsungs.

      Not seeing a lot of ads from them though. apple and samsung sell inferior devices with inferior services through massive ad campaigns. HTC wont compete until they recognize they need to have an 8X ad out there for every GS3 ad out there
      Johnny Vegas
      • Advertising

        I fully agree here - great products, but it seems the advertising budget needs to be extended to compete with Samsung. I really like their customisations to the OS - they really give a fully integrated experience and save on having to find third party apps to get the same functionality.
        pethers
  • carriers maybe?

    It's been a while since i have been into the verizon stores, but i remember seeing a Motorola display, of course the apple display, and everything else, which had pretty much the same amount of shelf space as the other 2.
    abpbl6
  • 8X Rocks

    Chose the 8X over the Lumia strictly on form factor and weight. Don't regret my choice at all. Going to a larger phone, I really like the feel of the back and the thinness is very sexy. The features on the Lumia weren't enough. Keep going HTC, you've got a decent start.
    drappit
  • I think apple has proven one thing

    "So if the designs are so good, why are they not selling more?"

    Since when has success meant selling the best products? apple has proven that success is marketing an image. The products don't matter.

    I'd also like to take this opportunity to show HTC as a shining example of why everyone who stated "Nokia should have gone with Android instead of Windows Phone, then they would have been successful." was wrong. There has been 1 successful Android device seller: Samsung. It isn't that Android is a success for the OEM, it is that Samsung is a successful OEM and they happen to be running Android.

    Android is a success so don't get me wrong here. Android is a success for Google and a success for those hundreds of millions of people who bought an Android device that I'm sure they really like. But Android has not been a success for any OEM other than Samsung. Amazon is a maybe, they still need to make back their money on content sales. We'll see.

    Nokia might be doing better today had they gone with Android but WP wasn't a short term bet for Nokia, this is a long term play. I think in 5 years, had Nokia gone with Android, they would still be struggling to stay alive. With WP, in 5 years, Nokia at least has a chance to be really successful as the sole seller of the #3 platform by marketshare. 100% of 100,000,000 WP sales is better than 1% of 500,000,000 Android sales (profit per unit being equal, of course).
    toddbottom3
  • HTC excels at smartphone design, needs to excel in profits in 2013

    The HTC 8X is a nicely designed phone. If they want their profits to excel in 2013 they should consider adding the removable storage to the 8X. That phone would be the clear choice to buy.
    Loverock-Davidson
  • The problem is

    HTC excels ONLY at smartphone design. Their primary competition in Samsung and Apple excel in many other things as well which all integrate with each other. Both Samsung and Apple are smart to remind their customers of this at every turn and their customers see the value in integration. This is the reason I am gravitating towards Samsung products. Sure, non-Samsung products can also integrate (especially if they are Android or HDMI-CEC based), however having the same brand name on all your products makes it easier because they make special apps and web services to accomplish the task.
    Michael Kelly
  • Uh... 'excels at design'?

    This is the same company that brought us the wonderous Surround... which had a sliding screen AND a removable back that basically could ONLY be removed by holding the slider and pulling on the back... ensuring that the screen's connector to the body will get stressed and fail.

    Which happened to me (and quite a few other people). When I sent my two month old phone in for repairs, I was informed that *I* had damaged the phone and so it wasn't covered under warranty.

    Pass. No more HTC for me.
    TheWerewolf
  • I'm buying my 3rd HTC this week!

    Since I'm in smartphones, I've always been with HTC. I first had an HTC Touch Dual with Windows Mobile 6.1, then my current one is an Incredible S with Android. This week I'm going to get the 8X with Windows Phone.

    I always liked their products.

    Their only problem is to get updates to the devices. They makes so many different models that they can't update them all. Also that with Android they have to rely on the carrier as well is adding to the trouble.

    It seems to be less an issue with Windows Phone 8.
    lepoete73
  • HTC has beautiful phones that always have dealbreakers

    I am still using the original Evo 4g and would love to get a new HTC phone. However, HTC always makes phones that lack a removable battery and an expandable SD card slot. I am pretty hard on my phones and hold on to them a while and require both. I don't really care how nice the back of the case of my phone is, untill HTC brings back these features on their top end phones, I will likely be buying a Samsung.
    MrPants1401
    • Agree, on many points

      I agree. I really prefer the design of my HTC phone. Unfortunately its RAM (too little to run Sense and other apps simultaneously) and onboard storage (to little to store any apps/content without an added SD card) aren't a patch on those of tlrival products. I'd got a bit brassed off with the "loading ..." message that appears frequently.
      Now they have upped the onboard storage, I'd still like the opportunity to add more since I have a large music collection. (streaming from the "cloud" isn't an option, as I travel a lot.) From reviews I've seen of the One X, I guess they're still underpowered in terms of RAM.
      They do LOOK nice though!
      DJL64
  • I Fully Agree!!

    I have been lusting over the HTC One X Plus however without removable Battery.... deal breaker. Its nice to have 64 GB of storage but removable would still be superior. I don't even care if the phone is fatter. Just give me flexibility.
    Techyard Dog
  • what makes samsung great....

    their pricing strategy and ads.....u see them wherever u go.
    gundam_0083
  • Good Luck HTC

    I have been using Samsung products for almost 3 years now and got myself Htc One X recently and I should say it is one piece of design that separates the line of phones that HTC has been making all these years. I wish they could advertise more and make their products more competitive in pricing in 2013. Their phones are known for long life and ruggedness. Hope they continue making good phones like HOX and start making profits. Good Luck HTC
    venkraam
  • Long time HTC Fan

    My first HTC was the HD2 running WinMo 6.5 and then just about everything. I love the way it could run Android and WP as well as other phone OSes. I kept mine after the contract was paid off. Currently it is running Windows 7.8 and my son is using it.

    I liked HTC so much that I picked up the HTC Titan on the next contract. Boy is does that phone have a gorgeous screen! 4.7-inches of delightful screen area and it runs WP7.5 (I am waiting for 7.8) without a hitch. The camera was top of the line for its time and still takes good pics. I loved the panorama mode. With the Titan I dd not really need a tablet as I could read all manner of web pages with ease!

    When the Titan was at the end of its contract the 8X came out and so I went for it in a new contract.

    The 8X is drop-dead gorgeous all around! I love the thinness of it. It looks smaller on the outside than it is on the inside. The design is such that it does not even need a protective case - the curved and soft-covered back of the case makes it near impossible to drop by accident, but even if it did, the spongy finish absorbs the impact well.

    The 8x really gets attention when I take it out to use. Along with the cobalt blue of the back and edges, the beveled screen really gives the phone a classy look.

    The 8X is smaller than the Titan, but still bigger than an iPhone 5, and I do miss the lack of screen-area when viewing webpage content. I hope that HTC decides to make an 8X2 that has the same design but with a Titan-sized screen. While there may be room for the screen to grow on the present unit, a centimeter or two more across the width and length would not make the phone look too fat at all.

    Of course, it will be awhile before I need to get a new contract, so HTC has plenty of time.
    Curtis Quick