You can’t call yourself an Android fan, enthusiast, aficionado or devotee and not have a soft spot for HTC. Heck, even Apple fanboys and Windows Phone supporters should at the very least respect the makers of the first Android-running device, the HTC Dream, aka T-Mobile G1 or Era G1.
Google and HTC had a “dream” back in 2008, and whether or not you adhered to their vision, the fact of the matter is they pushed Cupertino to become better, steal innovate as much as possible, drive forward at all costs. They also created the opportunities and rich, competitive market allowing Redmond an entry.
And indirectly, they condemned BlackBerry to oblivion, though that’s a discussion for another time. Right now, we’d merely like to convince ourselves HTC can build some sort of resurgence after a steep, violent, shocking slump.
Of course, unlike in the movies, a Phoenix can’t rise from the ashes in a heartbeat. A rebirth takes time, resources and… more time. But everything starts with a first step. HTC’s hike to the peak of the mobile market began with the Dream, so the question is this: can the Taiwanese afford to “dream” again? Let’s see.
How low can you go?
Before sinking our teeth into the actual list of revival candidates, it’s probably wise to determine exactly how hard an uphill battle these need to fight. Well, the numbers never lie and, in this particular case, they’re ruthless.
After accounting for roughly 11 percent of global smartphone shipments a measly three years ago, HTC’s share has dipped to less than 3 percent nowadays. And while back in the day the Taiwanese were breathing down Samsung and Apple’s necks (as well as Nokia’s), they now see themselves eclipsed by Huawei, Lenovo or LG.
But let me throw another number at you. 500,000. That’s how many One M8 units we think HTC sold thus far. In the meantime, Samsung surely shipped about 11 million Galaxy S5s. Oh, and ironically, the M8 is deemed a sales hit by HTC execs.
Wrapping up the ominous picture, the company’s latest financial report revealed yet another disastrous quarter, governed by net losses and declining revenue. Remember, Q3 2013 was the falling tech giant’s all-time worst quarter, and last the One makers posted a healthy profit and on-the-rise revenue was… a long, long time ago.
Eligible savior No. 1: HTC One M8 Prime
“Exotic” aluminum/liquid silicone composite build, water-resistant chassis, top-of-the-line hardware, up to date software. What could prevent the no doubt imminent One M8 Prime from becoming the biggest box-office hit of today’s Android market?
Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Prime? On paper, it’s no match in build quality, durability and, possibly, raw speed either. But Sammy has a way of spinning things in its advantage thanks to a marketing and advertising juggernaut.
Then there’s LG’s splendid G3. Perhaps, Apple’s “iPhablet” too. At the end of the day though, the M8 Prime is M8 Prime’s biggest enemy. I don’t know much about the aluminum/liquid silicone mix, but it sounds really hard to manufacture on a large scale. And expensive.
Besides, the market is already oversaturated with all these mind-blowing high-enders (One M8 included), so there might not be very high demand for an $800 or so flagship.
Eligible savior No. 2: One M8 Ace
The Free Dictionary defines irony as “the use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning”. I define it as HTC trumpeting the construction superiority of its aluminum crown jewels over Samsung’s chintzy plastic spearheads day in and day out, followed by a 180-degree strategy turn and adoption of, you guessed it, polycarbonate flagships.
Oh, well, at least HTC is rumored to have the decency of pricing the plasticky M8 Ace in accordance with its inferior constitution. In which case I say we forgive them their duplicity, forget and buy as many copies as we can.
$450 for a 5.1-inch giant with Snapdragon 801 heat, 2 GB RAM, Full HD display resolution and so on and so forth? I don’t care if it’s made out of clay, I want one. Hopefully, so will other budget-conscious power users.
Eligible savior No. 3: One mini 2
Personally, I remain a fan of compact handhelds. 4.3, 4.5 inches, that’s probably the sweet spot for me. And while the One mini 2 is no Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, it’s punchy, sturdy and good-looking enough to sell rather decently.
But start a revolution and put HTC on the right track back to the top? Nah, it’s just too low-profile and a smidge too pricey, especially if all the M8 Ace reports pan out.
Eligible savior No. 4: mid-range Desire line
Ditto for Desires. I mean, they offer solid bang for buck and everything and will likely help raise HTC’s profile in emerging markets. Yet they lack the pizazz, that certain je ne sais quoi to make speed junkies all over the world give up some of their regular dose in favor of affordability.
Eligible savior No. 5: a wild card?
Even in the age of the daily leak and common premature disclosure, once in a blue moon (literally) OEMs earn back the power to surprise. So maybe, just maybe HTC has something up its sleeve we don’t know much about.
A tablet perhaps. A Nexus 8, albeit the future of the “pure Google” family is uncertain. A fully flexible smartphone refining the rough concept behind Samsung’s Galaxy Round and LG’s G Flex. A 2-in-1, 3-in-1, 4-in-1 hybrid with extra productivity and versatility compared to, say, Asus PadFones or Transformer Pads.
A trail-blazing Windows Phone. Just kidding. Sure, we’re all rooting for you, HTC, but not if you abandon Android to pursue the damned WP path.
All things considered, what do you dear readers reckon is HTC’s best chance at survival, redemption and revitalization? Could it be a wild card, the already released One mini 2 or Desires, or the soon-to-break-cover One M8 Prime and One M8 Ace? We’re all ears.