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Yesterday, HTC’s CEO Peter Chou took a moment to speak with The Wall Street Journal, and did so pretty candidly. Chou outlined why he thinks his company didn’t fair to well in 2012, and that in 2013 things will be different. It’s honestly great that the company CEO understands what’s going on, and that things need to change, but in that conversation I couldn’t help but notice that Chou is playing it pretty close to his chest.

I’m going to admit that I don’t think 2013 is going to be a year that blows us away with technology. Some might say that our devices have plateaued in a way, and I can see how that’s the case. We’ve got our first 1080p display, and there will be more of those. We’ll see more quad-core devices, and handsets that range in sizes. But for the most part, it looks like 2013 is going to be pretty straightforward.

And Peter Chou is quick to accept that. That’s what I got from that initial report.

It’s pretty clear in the couple of pull quotes that our own Alex Wagner used in his own report. Chou told the WSJ that he believes “the worst for HTC has probably passed,” and I for one hope that is certainly true. HTC is one of those companies that I think the mobile industry needs, because they do create amazing devices. And even if their proprietary Sense user interface isn’t the best right now, that’s something that could change. Needs to change.

Probably is a heavy word. It’s a word that Chou used, and it’s the word that I can’t get around. I have no doubt that Chou is confident in HTC’s plans, and that they certainly will do their best to make a splash in the year to come. But at the same time, I think “probably” shows that they really have no idea what’s going to happen. They don’t know what Samsung is going to do. They don’t know what Apple is going to do. It’s almost like they’ve got blinders on, and they’re just going to dive in and do what they can.

Here’s the thing: That’s not a bad thing. Sure, I’m hung up a bit on the “probably,” but if HTC is going to ignore what the competition is doing, and just create a phone that they think will be the “best of the best,” then I hope that works. I really, really hope that works. Either that, or Chou’s trepidation moving forward isn’t going to be fixed by marketing alone.

Should their big focus be on marketing? Absolutely. But that’s not going to get them anywhere if they don’t have a phone to actually market. Is that phone going to be the oft-rumored M7? Probably. Are we going to see it at CES in just a few days? Nope. Not unless some HTC employee is using it and leaves it on a stool or something. HTC’s marketing for the next big phone has to be huge, but so does the phone.

No, not necessarily physically, mind you. It doesn’t have to be a phone with a ridiculously large display. It just has to be a phone that can marry the hardware and software in such a way that resonates with potential consumers. HTC’s focus shouldn’t on beating the competition in an arm’s race to nowhere. HTC’s focus has to be on making the best possible Android phone. Just focus on that.

Put the blinders on, HTC. Bunker down, get the designers and developers and marketers in the same room, get them talking, and figure out how to create the best possible device, and how to market it around the world. If that means you have to play hardball with the US-based carriers, do it. If you’ve got the phone and the money, along with the creativity in marketing, the carriers will (hopefully) bend enough to make your plans work. After all, if you succeed, they succeed (a little more than they already are).

Is HTC’s worst behind them? It’s possible. I hope it is. I want the next HTC phone to wow me, and the rest of the world. I want HTC to climb back to the top of the list of our very own Smartphone Rankings. Can HTC be the king of Android again? Sure, why not? But do you think they’ll get that far? What do you think, Dear Reader? Do you think HTC can accomplish this goal? Let me know what you think.


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