Could HTC start leading the Windows Phone charge?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: August 13, 2013

HTC's had a bit of a roller coaster last few years, but that's not a secret. The company's once royal-like name within the Android Army has all been but extinguished, saved (seemingly momentarily) by a single device released earlier this year: the One. However, there's no denying the power that the One, or its build quality and built-in features, boasts. It's one of the best phones to ever grace the mobile market in this writer's opinion, and the device should be enough to help propel HTC back to the forefront of the Android enlisted.

But, the doomsayers are still out and about, and no matter how impressive the One is, the future is still being painted as a pretty bleak canvas for the company. It's pretty clear to me that HTC doesn't see it that way, though, and actually sees the One as a design they can base not only future devices on, but also their future success. That's why the One Mini exists, and just looks like a smaller One. And that's why the One Max will eventually land in store shelves: It's a One, but bigger.

They're going after select niche markets, specific desires from specific customers all over the globe. They know that the One in its original form factor won't appeal to everyone, so they're making the One for those other people in the Mini and the Max. To put it bluntly, HTC is following in the steps of Samsung in all the right ways, and they're banking that it will all work out in the end.

Will it? Only time will tell.

Until then, HTC is going to create new devices, all of which will probably be based in some way or another on the original One. I wish that meant that we'd see the One flaunting other mobile operating systems, though, rather than just seeing that beautiful industrial frame around varying versions of Android.

As I've said in the past, I want HTC to create a One that's running Windows Phone. I know the argument of whether or not hardware can sell Windows Phone is still being waged, and the jury is obviously still out on that. But that doesn't mean I still wouldn't like to see one. Especially with features like BoomSound and Zoe, I think Windows Phone could definitely benefit from the additions that HTC brought to the table.

I can't help but notice that HTC is following in Samsung's steps in another area, too: Windows Phone. It's no secret that HTC hasn't necessarily given Windows Phone a big push. Even when the company unveiled their Windows Phone 8X last year alongside Microsoft, it was more about Microsoft pushing the device. It was more about Microsoft giving HTC all the love, and being so proud of the new device. Proud enough to let the operating system's name flaunt the majority of the phone's title.

Since then, HTC's been pretty much noncommittal to Microsoft's mobile OS. The Windows Phone 8X got a recent refresh, sort of, with Sprint's recently launched 8XT, but that's basically just big news for Sprint. It's the carrier's first Windows Phone 8-based device, after all. For HTC, it feels more like a placeholder.

I'm going to sound a bit crazy here, but what if HTC put their focus on Windows Phone instead of Android? Maybe not permanently, but what if the roles were reversed? What if HTC put all of their focus on Windows Phone, and just released minor devices for Android to fill emerging markets across the globe? Or, even devices similar to the 8XT?

So, we'd see a One-like device, with those high-end materials and that immaculate design aesthetic, but with Windows Phone. I'd be the first to tell you that I'd drop the Lumia 920 for a One running Windows Phone, and I think a lot of people would do the same thing, too.

More than anything, though, if HTC can't revitalize itself within the Android market, why doesn't it just try to go somewhere else? Somewhere else that's not being permeated with devices from every single manufacturer out there, from big to small (not counting the obvious manufacturers). HTC could go up against Nokia in the Windows Phone market, especially if they were bringing devices like the One, or the One Max or even the One Mini to the table.

And if HTC could put some real focus there, they could stand a chance.

The obvious answer is obvious, though. Windows Phone just doesn't have the user base that Android. So even if HTC could capitalize and "take over" the Windows Phone user base, would that be enough? I imagine HTC executives have had this conversation in a high-rise building, in a room filled with suits and ties, and figured out that they're just better off with Android.

So maybe continuing that pressure in the Android Army, and trying to win back the hearts and minds of those who have switched to other manufacturers, doesn't have to be held back by trying to win over the (smaller) Windows Phone market at the same time?

Basically, this is just an open letter, all in the hopes that I get to see a One-inspired Windows Phone-based device sooner rather than later. But it's probably a pipe dream that will never happen.

What do you think? Should HTC put a larger focus on Windows Phone moving into 2014? Or should the company keep their eyes on Android, and just use Windows Phone as a small buffer in the background? Would you buy a One running Windows Phone? Let me know!