Can HTC stick to a plan?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: February 2, 2013

Now that we’re two days into February, it’s time to start looking ahead. We’ve spent the last couple of days talking about BlackBerry’s new BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system, along with its hardware, and even why you might switch platforms. But today it’s time to switch gears a bit, and put our focus on another company. Another company that, while perhaps not as desperate as BlackBerry’s situation, is indeed facing a long trial of tribulations. So, Dear Reader, let’s talk HTC.

The truth is, there is no doubt in my mind that HTC is the company that can still make an impact in the smartphone industry. HTC is a company that still makes solid hardware, devices that are truly worth owning, worth staring at. Even if I don’t necessary like using the HTC One X (or One X+), I can’t help but stare at it when I see it. It’s a nice looking phone, and it feels great in the hand.

And Microsoft was in the right when they put a lot of the marketing muscle behind HTC’s Windows Phone 8X. I thought it was confusing at first, sure, but that’s only because of the situation between Microsoft and Nokia. After getting my hands on the Windows Phone 8X, though, it’s clear that HTC has created, yet again, a truly remarkable device.

Until yesterday, despite the numerous leaks and rumors churned out of the Rumor Mill, the M7 was just another unannounced device that may, or may not, exist. And then, yesterday, Chou took the stage at HTC’s year-end party, and showed the device off to the crowd. Eventually they were all cheering “M7!” and I’m pretty sure that effectively churned up quite a bit of awareness for the phone’s existence.

The CEO admitted the phone is real. That’s practically the same thing as a launch event, with even fewer details than we’re used to getting.

Of course, HTC has a real launch date planned for their new device, which is February 19. Everyone expects to see HTC’s next great flagship device on that day, and I for one am pretty excited to see this phone in action. The question is, which I hinted at earlier, will it matter? Even if the M7 is a killer phone, will it be enough to “save” HTC? To bring them back, like a roaring Phoenix? Or are we going to be looking at another piece of hardware that’s weighted down by the software limitations or drawbacks?

We are in agreement that it has to be the software, right? Because we’ll admit that the One X+ and Windows Phone 8x are fantastic pieces of hardware. Whether it’s an aged Sense UI, or Windows Phone 8, something on the softer side of things is keeping these phones from really taking off.

You know what else would help, though? If HTC would start listening to itself. We are only two months into 2013, and I’m already seeing HTC go back on something it said in the middle of 2012. That’s a pretty quick turn-around rate, if you ask me. And no, I’m not saying that HTC needs to stick to their plans because the consumer is paying attention to what the CEO is saying. I’m saying that HTC needs to stick to their plans because these are good plans! They should stick to them!

Instead, we get to see HTC executives say one thing, and then do the complete opposite later down the line.

In 2011, for example. HTC said that they’d be focusing on “quality over quantity" in 2012, a direct response regarding the flood of HTC-branded devices they launched in 2011. So that’s where the One series came from. The only problem is that HTC still managed to release so many devices in 2012. Many of them bearing the One series brand, or the specifications marketed to suggest it could be a One series device. So, while HTC may have focused on quality over quantity to start 2012, it didn’t stick to that plan at all.

Now, we’re essentially looking at the same situation, but with a slightly different context. In June of last year, Peter Chou told The Wall Street Journal that the company would no longer be launching low-end devices. That they’d be focusing on mid-range to high-end handsets only, to help their market share. A plan that, shocker, makes sense. Much like Sony has recently announced, HTC wants to keep their phones at a pristine level, and putting focus on lower-end handsets could divert attention away from devices that truly deserve it.

That makes sense. And since we know the HTC M7 is coming down the pipe, it would seem that HTC is sticking to their guns. But then we’ve got two more devices reportedly launching this year, and things immediately start to get shaky. Fortunately, the rumored M4 isn’t that far down the ladder from the M7. It is said to feature a 4.3-inch 720p display, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a 13 megapixel camera on the back, and a 1.2MP front-facing shooter. You’ll also get 2GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in storage, and 4G LTE-connectivity. All-in-all, a phone that has a few high-end features, but would fit squarely in that mid-range area without much argument.

Oh, but there’s one more. The G2. Another rumored, and not official device. (Yet.) This device will reportedly pack a 3.5-inch HVGA touchscreen display, a 1GHz processor, with a 5MP camera on the back. You’ll only get 512MB of RAM, 4GB of built-in storage, and a 1,400mAh battery. There is a microSD card slot, though, so that’s something.

HTC, the G2 is a low-end device. It’s an entry-level handset, and that goes against the statement you made in June. I’m looking at a rumored phone that, if it does indeed launch, would fly in the face of comments you made regarding your company’s plans. I’m not really understanding why this keeps happening, but it’s leaving me a little jaded about HTC’s future. I’m someone that tries to take what a CEO says seriously, because I tend to believe that they’ve got a pretty good grasp on what their company’s plans are.

The reason this bothers me, is because I can’t help but look at Peter Chou’s statements about HTC’s “worst days,” and that we should all expect a bigger marketing push from the company in 2013 for their new devices. That they’ll essentially fix it, and we’ll see the results. Unfortunately, I’m looking at the past and seeing a distinct disconnect between what’s been said and what’s been put into action. Which makes me think that 2013 won’t actually see a change in marketing, or maybe even worse marketing, for devices like the M7 and M4 that really deserve some extra attention, especially from consumers.

I want HTC to succeed. The company has been behind some of my all-time favorite devices, and I want to see that trend resurrected this year. I’m always ready to find my new phone, and I’ve been waiting for HTC to supply it. I have extremely high expectations for the M7, and I hope that HTC has put the necessary amount of attention into it. But where do you stand on HTC, Dear Reader? Do you think 2013 will be their year? Or will we see Samsung continue to rule the roost, and HTC continue to falter and lag behind? Let me know what you think.

Products mentioned