HTC has had kind of a rough year this year. After the announcement and subsequent release of the HTC One M9 flagship back in April this year, a flood of disappointment followed. Many considered the M9 to be far too similar to last year’s M8, and felt that the lack of major changes given to the One series over the past couple of years have come back to bite HTC.
Since then, news has been pretty mum with HTC, except for the upcoming rumored HTC A9 device. According to rumors and leaks, the A9 is meant to lean more towards mid-range specs and (hopefully) a cheap price tag. Although the device isn’t official yet, it got me thinking about how HTC would fare if they took a more Motorola-ish approach to smartphones.
I’m pretty sure every manufacturer (except perhaps Apple) has had their good phones and phones that didn’t pan out so well. HTC has had a number of these, but so has Motorola. Both companies were once very popular in the smartphone industry, and then they both kind of tapered off. In 2013, however, both made a fairly big splash with the Moto X and the HTC One. The only difference here is that while Motorola continued to flourish, HTC began tapering off again.
Clearly there’s no one solid answer as to why Motorola has done better than HTC these past 2 years, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Motorola’s phones don’t mess around with overly bloated UI’s, high price tags, or locked carriers. Add in the fact that the Moto X features a highly customizable design, and you’ll likely find that there’s a lot to like about Motorola these days.
But it didn’t just happen like that overnight. You might remember that the Moto X started off on bad footing with a high price tag and a huge let down in regards to what people were expecting out of that first generation model. The key for Motorola is that they were able to adapt and improve.
HTC, on the other hand, seems to have ridden their wave for too long.
The HTC One M7 was a wonderful device at the time. It introduced a new level of “premium” that Android users weren’t accustomed to by featuring an aluminum unibody design, dual front-facing BoomSound speakers, and high-end specs. It looked and performed great. The device wasn’t perfect, though, as many questioned certain features of the device; namely, the 4-megapixel “UltraPixel” camera didn’t sit well with a lot of people.
2014’s HTC One M8 featured only a couple of subtle design changes and spec upgrades, but opted to keep that same questionable UltraPixel camera. The device was received decently enough, and was still praised for its design.
This year’s One M9, as I previously mentioned, has had a tougher time achieving success for whatever reason. HTC finally changed the camera to feature a 20-megapixel shooter, moving the UltraPixel camera to the front. However, the choice to keep the device looking nearly identical to the M8 has been considered questionable (and seems to be a move that’s only acceptable if done by Apple). While I could never call the M9 a bad phone, it just wasn’t able to hold consumer interest on a grander scale for a third year in a row.
It’s becoming harder with each passing year to justify spending hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for a phone when there are so many good, affordable options out there. Aside from the Moto X, Motorola’s Moto G and Moto E lines seem equally as popular in their own right. All three models are extremely affordable compared to their respective counterparts, and each seem to exceed expectations in regards to performance.
Perhaps HTC needs to do something along these lines to get back in the game as well, as HTC hasn’t ever really been synonymous with “affordable” and “great”, at least at the same time. It has either been “expensive and great” or “affordable and okay”. And sometimes “expensive and okay”.
I guess I’m just kind of hoping that HTC adopts Motorola’s tactics, which seems to have worked out very well for them. Even with the mid-range Moto G, we’ve seen that even a mid-range device can easily become quite the darling in the mobile industry. If HTC can manage to do that with the (allegedly mid-range) A9, then perhaps we will also see some necessary new changes to the HTC One next year.