The good and the bad of the new flagship from HTC has been divvied out in proportionate batches thus far, but I'm beginning to notice a shift. The majority of positive publicity surrounds the One's build quality and marketed features like BoomSound, Zoe, and the UltraPixel camera. But the negativity is becoming increasingly harder to pinpoint because it's coming from every direction. Most agree that supply issues and the One's late launch are negative factors, but neither are features of the phone. All of this untargeted negative publicity is starting to seem like a defense mechanism and leads me to believe HTC sure could use a visit from lady luck.
Just yesterday, Nokia spotted their microphone technology in the HTC One and placed a preliminary injunction against sales in the Netherlands. HTC's microphones were supplied by ST Microelectronics who is the sole manufacturer of Nokia's High Amplitude Audio Capture system. This legal dispute is over a breach in NDA and clearly lies between ST Microelectronics and Nokia, but HTC is still a bystander. HTC released the following statement to Engadget in response to the injunction: "HTC is disappointed in the decision. We are considering whether it will have any impact on our business and we will explore alternative solutions immediately."
In other news, HTC can't catch a break with Samsung either. Anna wrote about Samsung's "dirty tricks" whereby the Korean company paid students to post fake web reviews defacing the HTC One. It's definitely not positive publicity for the Korean company and it says a lot about their marketing "tactics" against competitors. The impact on sales of the One in Asia has yet to be determined.
To top it off, here in the States both Sprint and T-Mobile aren't helping HTC either with many reports of pre-orders not going through, and multiple backorder delays. As TmoNews recently reported, the One has been the subject of such demand that the Uncarrier's online order system became unavailable this past weekend, with some customers even receiving shipping notifications followed by backorder emails. Clearly, HTC is the subject of some extremely bad luck from carriers, too.
I was lucky enough to receive a shipping notification for my pre-ordered HTC One this past Friday. This was easily one of the least stressful smartphone purchases I have ever made thanks to Aaron, Anna, and Evan's overall positive feedback of the device. Where many have already called it the best Android smartphone on the market, there are an equal amount of people saying "The competition hasn't really heated up yet, so it's still too soon to tell." It's understandable considering that Samsung's Galaxy S 4 has not yet hit the market, nor have any another flagships from other platforms. But it's likely that the publicity surrounding the One is at the point where it's starting to mean more than "HTC is in trouble if it doesn't sell smartphones" because they are and other manufacturers are doing everything they can to stop them.
Right now, the company everyone unanimously agrees has to knock it out of the park is HTC. You'd be a fool to think they don't have work to do as outlined by their 98% year over year drop in revenue. Likewise, it doesn't make sense to ignore the amount of publicity the HTC One has attracted. There comes a point in time when success can largely be defined by how much attention is gathered. Most of the time, the media finds something to glorify and elevates it to oblivion. But the One is unique in that its features like BoomSound, HTC Zoe, and the UltraPixel camera actually live up to their hype.
So, my question is this: is everyone really against HTC because they're winning?
It may be too early to tell how the One fairs against competing smartphones, but it's not too early to venture a guess that it's in contention for Android smartphone of the year. HTC has managed to up the ante with their marketing ploy by rehashing their motto and launching multiple commercials, as well as getting a single device on almost every U.S. carrier. To top it off, the HTC One has sold out of pre-orders on T-Mobile while the AT&T and Sprint models are still going strong.
While most of you are probably screaming "fanboy" and thinking I'm a lunatic for questioning HTC's current market position, I challenge you to find a smartphone that claims to be more than it actually is - a smartphone with features that are over-hyped. There are plenty.
But HTC has somehow managed to attract positive attention surrounding its device's core features. Despite both Nokia and Samsung affecting HTC's image in the mobile market, the momentum surrounding the One continues. If there's one thing to learn from the One, it's that HTC took a narrow approach at marketing key features, and for the time being, it looks to be working.
Simply put, the HTC One is the underdog of Android, but its key differences in build quality and exclusivity insofar position it in the Android realm as unmatched. As I've said before, the One need only carefully manage its supply chain and meet demand, and once this happens, HTC can turn its publicity into ammunition once those initial sales figures roll in.
Your turn, reader! Do you think the publicity surrounding HTC is elevating it into a league of its own? Does HTC deserve a break? I'll be listening to you in the comments down below!