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How good is HTC’s marketing for the One?

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HTC has been steadily losing ground in the smartphone battle. Yesterday, HTC announced its latest flagship smartphone, HTC One. HTC believes that this device will help it make a dent in the smartphone race which is currently dominated by Samsung and Apple.
Having an outstanding device is one thing, whereas selling it successfully is a totally different ballgame. HTC One X was a very good device with great hardware specs, but we all know that HTC didn’t do well with that device. So what gets device sold? Well, it doesn’t really matter whether the device is the best device available in the market or not, but if the company cannot market it well, it will not succeed in the market.

As far as the specs go, HTC One looks amazing. It has got 4.7-inch 1080p full HD screen with 468ppi, aluminum unibody, 9.3mm thin, 143 grams, 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, 2GB RAM, stereo front speakers, HDR microphone, 4G LTE, a 2,300mAh battery, and the HTC UltraPixel Camera. The specs are good, but will it be successful? It all now depends on the marketing.

HTC seems to have an aggressive marketing campaign for the HTC One. HTC’s all new 2.0 marketing campaign is also up. The above ad is the latest advert for HTC’s latest device, and it is clean. CMO John Wang seems to be leaning more towards passive-aggressive marketing with this product. So let’s analyze the ad. The ad says, “Everything your phone isn’t”, which is definitely a bold claim to make. The sentence holds up pretty well after the “dual frontal stereo” part. As far as the sleek aluminum body goes, we have had the iPhone for so long in the market. Streaming favorite content is again not a unique feature because any Android device can do it fairly well. The One certainly has an advantage in the sound department, and the overall design definitely stands out of the crowd.

Now that it is established that the design is great, the user will next look at the interface. HTC has come up with Sense 5.0 UI and it is the latest iteration of Sense UI. HTC has put a lot of effort into this interface and it makes extensive use of tile based UI, very similar to Windows Phone interface. It’s graphically intensive and many people say that HTC has lifted it directly from WP, but then it’s perhaps the best interface that can convey the message efficiently on touchscreen. Tile based UI is the future and products like Flipboard, Google+/Google Currents and Pulse are also using similar kind of user interface.

The Sense 5.0 UI definitely stands out of the Android crowd, and it doesn’t have the things that people usually associate with Android. It can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on perception of the user. To conclude, HTC needs solid advertising plan if it does want to sell this product and make a dent in the market. What are your thoughts?

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HTC had a touch year, 2012, and the toughness in the sales and revenue generation is coming along with the calendar to this year as well. The projections for the first quarter of 2013 already show a very steep fall in revenue for the Taiwanese company. The company announced that the first quarter profits can come down by up to 17% compared to the last quarter. Even with the seasonal market, this is a huge loss. The reason for this shift is that the market share of the company in the two main platforms, Android and Windows Phone, is now being consumed by other players. The Android ecosystem is being dominated by Samsung’s Galaxy range of smart phones, and the Windows Phone market is taken over by Nokia’s Lumia portfolio. Even though HTC has high end alternatives to these smart phones, the HTC One series of Android smart phones, and the HTC Titan and 8X series of Windows Phone smart phones, the public is walking towards Samsung and Nokia for the respective platforms. The HTC 8X range of Windows Phone smart phones is very identical to the Nokia Lumia 920 in various aspects, and the Taiwanese manufacturer is expected to come out with an identical range of Android smart phones in the month of February. But even this is not expected to bring back HTC to the profit range it once had. “Profits are down. Q1 is already missing market expectations. Gross margins are looking to be down 2% from 23% in Q4 2012,” says Forbes. Forbes also says, “HTC’s answer is not to move to cheaper smartphones to increase unit sales, but to look to China as their saviour. Which sounds remarkably like the strategy of every smartphone handset manufacturer in 2013. China, where Android has over 90% of the market through a mix of mainstream handsets and Chinese Android variants such as Meizu’s MX range. Where Nokia and Samsung already have beach-heads and certified devices ready to go on sale.” So, will you be willing to buy a cheaper HTC handset if by any chance there is one? Or would be prefer to buy a cheaper handset from another manufacturer? And if almost all of the manufacturers concentrate on pleasing the Chinese market, what about the rest of the world? HTC already has offers in China in which you get a smaller Bluetooth phone which pairs with your HTC Butterfly so that you will not have to take your smart phone all the time. And this is supposed to be a China-only offer. Isn’t the rest of the world missing out on such offers?

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