Another year, another laundry list of smartphones from a variety of different manufacturers to start looking forward to. Samsung, Motorola, LG, Apple, and, hopefully, HTC. That last company is starting to shift its attention a little bit, away from smartphones —which are still important— over to virtual reality (VR), which it believes is more important. And maybe it is! While VR has tried to make inroads into the public consciousness years in the past, which didn’t work all that well, everyone seems to have a very different outlook on the technology these days.
And HTC is on the ground floor of that effort, too. With the Vive, and Vive Pre, the company is one of the names that is being bandied about quite a bit when it comes to people accepting VR into their lives. Oculus, Sony, and even Microsoft, are all trying to get a different kind of reality into your life, to varying degrees, and there are already huge investments going into these new ventures.
HTC has found itself on a less-than-positive outlook when it comes to smartphones, so some might say that the company’s shift to virtual reality and that broad future makes sense, but that doesn’t mean HTC has to get out of the flagship smartphone game. And, honestly, I hope that’s not what it means.
Don’t call it a comeback, HTC.
Samsung saw a dip in its own attention in the smartphone race leading up to the launch of the Galaxy S6, thanks to devices that many said were too derivative of the handset that preceded it. With the Galaxy S6 the company got a shot of revitalization, and people are expecting good things from the Galaxy S7 — even if it will probably look quite a bit like the Galaxy S6.
HTC has a foot in the same “same old” pool as Samsung, where the M7 was a stand-out device, and then the M8 and M9 failed to grab the same kind of attention. And while rumors are flying around regarding Samsung’s upcoming flagship, the Rumor Mill is all but silent on whatever HTC is planning to launch this year. Does that mean HTC isn’t working on a flagship for 2016? It’s at least possible, but hopefully not likely.
And that better not be the case. HTC may be in a slump, but that doesn’t mean they have to be out of it completely. I think they can make a resurgence in 2016, as long as they launch a phone that’s not only appealing to look at, but also manages to bring with it plenty of features that people want to use.
So how does HTC do that? That’s a good question, and one that’s pretty tough to come to terms with. I don’t think going completely stock in the software department is the right answer, but I think finding a happy place between offering proprietary features and a near-stock experience is pretty smart, much like how Motorola handles it. More than that, though, they need a sharper display, more RAM to handle the software, and a camera that ditches all of the namesake marketing gimmicks and just provides a ridiculously good experience.
Is it possible for HTC to provide that and more? Of course. This is a company that has made some of the most popular smartphones ever, and it certainly helped make Android a household name. I think HTC can get back to that spot, even if it doesn’t have to help herald the arrival of a mobile OS at the same time.
But what do you think? Do you believe HTC can make waves in 2016 with a handset that people talk about for good reasons, and customers want to buy? Or is HTC’s focus on VR, and not so much on smartphones, the right play for a company that has seen better days? Let me know!