iOS and Android. Those are the two major platforms for smartphones and other mobile devices right now. If broken down just a little bit, though, Android is revealed to be dozens of manufacturers and OEMs that produce hardware capable of running Google’s open source software. Samsung, the Korean juggernaut, is far and away the largest manufacturer pushing Android on its handsets in terms of raw numbers. Samsung’s Galaxy line is responsible for some of the best devices available today, and Samsung also blankets the low-end market with cheaper options.
Apple also dominates a huge portion of the high-end market, which is where HTC has traditionally focused. With this two-company duopoly, many smaller players have been smoked out of the market as more and they were unable to create competitive products.
HTC’s position is quite unique: they arguably create devices that are better, in terms of software and hardware design, than anything that Samsung has put out. While there is obviously debate about whether or not HTC’s Sense UI is better than Samsung’s own skin, there is one thing that most can agree on: HTC knows how to design a good product. They proved this particularly with the HTC One X, released last year and targeted specifically at Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III. However, whether because of a lack of uniform distribution or marketing, the One X was nowhere near as successful as the S III.
Peter Chou, in an interview with The WSJ, vowed to step up innovation and try to outwit and out-innovate his company’s competitors:
“The worst for HTC has probably passed. 2013 will not be too bad,” said Chief Executive Officer Peter Chou in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Friday.
“Our competitors were too strong and very resourceful, pouring in lots of money into marketing. We haven’t done enough on the marketing front.”
Arguably, HTC’s greatest problem is marketing. While the One X was a fantastic phone, it did not carry a uniform brand across the globe. Without the recognizable brand, the One X wasn’t able to compete in the minds of consumers with the more popular Galaxy S III, not to mention the iPhone.
Chou, CEO of HTC, has long been a standout figure in the industry. His company has pioneered major technological advances and partnered with various others, including Google, to push forward his view of what a device should be. Similar to Apple, HTC has historically designed their own devices to appeal to the mass market, while throwing in a few high-end features or specifications to wow the press. He believes that this strategy will work again:
Mr. Chou dismissed many analysts’ claim that HTC is stuck in the middle of the pricing spectrum. “Although we don’t have as much money to counter [Samsung and Apple], the most important thing is to have unique products that appeal to consumers,” Mr. Chou said.
In terms of the current mobile landscape, HTC is certainly an underdog. While still profitable, HTC’s financials have been on a steady decline as Samsung has risen to the top, and Apple’s iPhone has remained the de facto device.
Going in to 2013, HTC will have to assert itself as a mobile leader. They arguably caught up with Samsung and Apple in 2012 with the One line. In 2013, though, the company needs a massive hit.