For years now, the Taiwanese-based handset manufacturer, HTC, has produced my favorite Android hardware. Lately, though, the company has found itself in a rather deep rut, struggling to turn a profit and combat the likes of Samsung's two flagships for its very popular smartphone lines, Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II.
In Las Vegas last week, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with HTC on more than one occasion. I was able to ask some probing questions and give a good amount of feedback on the company's latest devices, software and market performance.
If there is one thing humbling about a company so large, it's that HTC is not afraid to admit its performance in 2012 was lackluster. It has identified the problems and vowed to make 2013 a better year. CEO Peter Chou believes the worst has passed and the current year will be a point of turnaround for the company.
I'm inclined to agree, so long as Chou and HTC stick to their guns.
The competition is as stiff as it gets. Samsung and Apple are taking the market and running with it. But HTC has a large enough following (or fan base), experience and the capacity to make great hardware to grab the reins and take charge – at least enough to get back to the point it was at in 2009 through 2011.
I'm only on day one of my 30-day challenge with the HTC DROID DNA, and I'm already beginning to remember why I used the HTC One X for so long, why I was dying to get my hands on the Amaze 4G in late 2011 and why I still compare every Nexus to the original, the Nexus One.
Last Wednesday, I sat down with Jeff Gordon, HTC's Global Online Communications Manager. He and I chatted for a bit, cracked some jokes about Aaron and his hair and we talked shop. I asked about battery life, storage space and Sense UI. And I expressed my undying interest in another HTC-made Nexus phone.
The concern dealt back was that making a Nexus phone might reflect a lack of belief or confidence in Sense UI and the vast changes HTC has made to the custom interface over the last two years. It may give consumers the wrong impression about HTC and where the company stands in regards to its own software customizations. If HTC has its own software build, why would it also make a Nexus? It could reflect poorly on Sense, which has received a considerable amount of criticism over the years -- just as all custom interfaces have.
On the flip side, HTC could rekindle the love of all those Nexus One fans out there who are still dying for another HTC-made Nexus phone, all those loyalists who love HTC for its hardware but prefer the pleasures of Android in its purest form.
Originally, I sat down this morning to write a piece about the Nexus 4 by LG, how Google's statements, ongoing supply issues and the fact that LG alludes there is no problem with supply don't add up. I wanted to drive home the point that I would have bought a Nexus 4 months ago if I had the opportunity. I have owned every Nexus device yet, with the exception of the Nexus 10 (which is back in stock on Google Play, and I plan to buy at some point) and Nexus 4. And, until this morning, I had every intention of buying a Nexus 4.
Instead, Google points the finger at LG. And LG doesn't see that the Nexus 4 being out of stock for months on end as an issue. And because of this, I've almost entirely given up on getting a Nexus 4, even as bad as I want to try out the awesome carbon fiber skin I got at CES on the back.
Just a quick scan over the local Craigslist offers show that I can pick up a "lightly used" 16GB Nexus 4 for anywhere from $400 to $480. That's a fairly significant markup considering the device is used and retails new for $350.
No less, I've decided to move on and look ahead, to keep my eyes peeled for the next Nexus phone. In another month's time, I'm sure rumors will pick up in light of Google I/O, which is on the calendar for May 15 through May 17. Rumors of a Nexus 5 have already surfaced, though a lack of details draws concern.
In light of all this, assuming the Nexus 5 does make an appearance at I/O in May, I'm going to jump the gun, knowing the likelihood of what I'm about to say is slim to none. (The Google X Phone is rumored to be made by Motorola, which will likely be the next Nexus.)
I want HTC to make the next Nexus. I want the Nexus One design to be rehashed and scaled-up for 5-inch 1080p displays, either 64GB or 128GB of built-in storage, quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chip, at least a 3,000mAh battery, a camera comparable to the iPhone 5 and the dual-LED notifications as found on the DROID DNA.
LG and Samsung have both shown how disinterested in promoting the Nexus brand they are and how quick they are to sweep it under the table in favor of their own flagships. HTC was very hands-off with the Nexus One outside of creating the hardware – that's how it should be.
The chances of HTC making another Nexus – especially one in 2013 – are excruciatingly slim. But that's what I want, a Nexus One redux.
What say you, ladies and gents? Should HTC make another Nexus? Or would it be detrimental to all the re-focusing on branding and refining of Sense it did in 2012?