Insiders blame Peter Chou for HTC’s situation – Reuters profile

August 21, 2013
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A Reuters profile based on insight from several former and current HTC executives portraits the company’s longtime CEO in a negative light.

HTC CEO Peter Chou Credit: HTC

Peter Chou’s name is almost inseparable from the company he helped turn from a small time contract manufacturer into a luminary of the smartphone industry. And yet, Chou’s ten-year tenure as CEO of HTC is called into question, after the company’s fortunes have plummeted in the last years.

HTC is about to register its first ever quarterly loss. Its stock has been free-falling, and more and more voices call for the company to consider an acquisition by a better-off competitor.

Who’s to blame for HTC’s fall from glory? Peter Chou, say unequivocally several former and current company executives whom Reuters interviewed. While most admit that Chou is “the heart of the company”, critics say that his lack of long-term vision and authoritarian management style have hamstrung HTC.

Reuters recounts an illustrative episode for Chou’s style of leadership:

Chou quickly drew some sketches on a whiteboard, recalled one of those present, and soon had the outlines of a device, its price point, and a launch date - just three months away. Most manufacturers would need up to 18 months for a similar project, yet the Sensation XL appeared on schedule, and to rave reviews.

Insiders said that Chou’s “shoot-from-the-hip” approach to product design and management has served HTC well back in its early years, but the current industry landscape requires a more prudent approach and deeper strategic thinking.

HTC encountered problems manufacturing One, which arrived late in several major markets, reportedly due to the company’s inability to secure the needed components in advance. At the time, it was revealed that HTC had been snubbed by suppliers because the company no longer had the clout of a big manufacturer.

Another problem that Peter Chou’s critics raised was his “abrasive” style of leadership:

Executives say HTC's failure to hit sales targets was at least partly down to Chou's management style. After hiring a slew of foreign executives, he fell short on promises to senior staff to foster a more open culture and cede sufficient authority. He openly berated managers and overrode their decisions, often with little discussion

Many of the foreign execs that HTC had brought onboard left the company at the beginning of the year, some of them publicly criticizing the company. Now the “old guard” is back in charge, which has reportedly eased the internal tensions somehow, at the cost of losing the international perspective offered by foreign executives.

According to the profile, Chou isn’t willing to relinquish the reins at HTC, and the company doesn’t even have an apparent successor lined up, which is reportedly another cause of weak morale.

Check out the full profile for the rest of the details.

Comments

  • End in sight

    I would fire Chou and see if that helps. I mean, might as well give it a test run!

  • cycad007

    Tragic…I really want HTC to succeed. But I agree that Peter Chou needs to go. Cher & H.T need to put their foot down and ask Peter to step aside. The results have been dismal the past couple years since Samsung really took control of the market.

  • NeedName

    If you want to run a company in the totalitarian style of S. Jobs then you need to be able to bring in the cash.

    HTC, IMHO, dropped the ball with Android from the very start. They came out with a ton of cheap devices and gave even worse software support. . . My first Android device was the HTC MyTouch on T-Mo and the final (and I think ONLY) update HTC pushed made it a buggy POS @ ~1 year in — I honestly believe they did it on purpose to drive upgrades. Well, the only thing they accomplished was for me to go to the Nexus lineup, only.

    Now, I look at an HTC One in the stores and think, it’s a beautiful device, even though I don’t get the two front facing speaker myself, wonderfully made. . . BUT, I don’t trust HTC for long term support so I put the One back down and move on.

    And I don’t recommend HTC to anyone. . . how many more are there like me?

    IMHO, if a company wants to succeed with Android they need to do a few things:
    1. make quality devices at reasonable prices
    2. commit in writing, and actually do it, to long term software fast updates — at least two years.
    3. remove the bloat — if you are going to add a skin to the UI then it had better be as lightweight as stock Android.

    • Amine Elouakil

      never NEVER buy a carrier specific phone, the OEM has almost no control on those.
      Now what do you suggest other than HTC for an Android device, the other OEMs are no better (and just as a reminder HTC is the only OEM that is updating right it 2012 Flagships to 4.2.2

      • NeedName

        Well, since I stated I went with a Nexus, obvious, that’s what I recommend first and formost.

        Now that Motorola looks like they’ve turned a corner, the Moto X looks good for “average users” for this year. However, I’m still keeping an eye on them for updates — at least the skin is gone.

        I totally agree with you about the carriers and OEMs doing a poor job with getting updates out. However, I was saying not only did HTC take a long time but it was a buggy update that pretty much killed the device — would have been better if they didn’t update it at all.

        Now if a person asks me for a recommendation, other than a Nexus, they will fall into two camps
        1. willing to flash a ROM
        2. tech novice/ignorant.

        For #1 I point them to the best hardware device that will sell well as this means it will be supported by the ROM community very well.

        For #2 I’ll point them to the current device on their carrier that operates the best and is easiest to use. Then I suggest that they do NOT update until they’ve read reviews about that update doing well, if possible. Sadly, there are time for this group that I recommend the iPhone. . . due to the whole software updating issue more so than anything else.

    • weed

      Yep, never again HTC for me. That goes for everyone I knew who owned an HTC in the past. One girl I know recently bought HTC and of course regrets, so buggy, and it had hardware defects on top of that. 1 month minimum to fix, but I guess as usual HTC woll just keep the phone in storage and eventually return it untouched when the owner is getting really angry, maybe in 3 to 4 months. That’s their strategy, service is expensive, storage is cheap.

      HTCs problem has nothing to do with marketing, they had lots of customers but they dont come back. For good reasons.

  • dandroid13

    Good news he isn’t stepping down, can’t wait to see HTC disappear.

    • cycad007

      Too bad nobody can make you disappear.

      • dandroid13

        What’s wrong with me? Haha

  • Amine Elouakil

    People tends to forget really quickly, since he joined HTC, The company grew several folds and become relevant in the smartphone era, and yes not all his decisions were positive, but the current situation it’s only partially due to those decisions (Sensation XL One X+ carrier branded phones and so on…) but also to bad practices from competitors such as Samsung, (Starting with blocking the supply chain of parts for example Desire AMOLED Screen, or Lobying carriers …to paying bloggers to bad mad mouth the company products)

    • elsava

      you sounds like HTC was bad because of “external” control.
      no, htc was broken from the “inside”, that’s why their executives are abandoning ship recently.

      HTC was used to be good. but now they’ve gone awry. I feel bad for them.

      • Amine Elouakil

        Obviously you’ve misread my comment, Like I said there are internal mistakes, but they are not and by far the main issue for HTC. and you are invited to prove my point or facts I mentioned wrong

        • jdoee100

          Internal mistakes were the main reasons why they’re where they are today. Nobody made them make lousy devices, or lousy updates/supports, take out SD/battery removal options, concentrate on only high-end devices, go with ultra-pixels, nobody made them,,,,,I can go on and on.
          As for samsung, they were in short supply of AMOLED at that time(was Samsung supposed to make HTC a priority above all others??), as for paying bloggers, I see anti-Samsung comments here and in other places lot more than anti-HTC comments. This hasn’t stopped Samsung from becoming #1 in the world. Stop blaming others, the blames lies with them. As for lobbying carriers, do you even have an ounce of evidence of this??

  • Milind

    Last year I was so looking forward to buying the One X. But it came with a non-removable battery, no micro SD card and 1 GB of RAM. The memory was insufficient to run apps and a bloated Sense so they gimped the multi-tasking in the kernel. The OS updates are slow (if at all). On top of that , they locked the boot loader and didn’t release their binaries to the open source community so can’t even rely on third party support. For crying out loud XDA was started on an HTC product. They used to have a nudge-nudge-wink-wink relationship with the custom ROM community and they seemed to have forgotten that. So I reluctantly bought the GS3 – and it’s turned out to be the best smart phone I have ever used.

    This year, they made the One. Better internal storage. More memory, no longer gimped the multitasking, provide a way to unlock the bootloader. But still no removable battery and still no micro SD card. And just plain annoyed with a senseless re-ordering of standard keys. Which meant that an upgrade is now waiting for either a Nexus 5 or the Note 3.

    The thing is that HTC makes awesome designs – just not on the same device. The Incredible had a terrific optical trackpad that was so useful to position the text cursor. The Legend had a neat design for the battery cover. The EVO had a kick-stand which is so incredibly useful. The One X had a superb display. Too bad, they can’t put at all into one HERO phone.

    Now if they offered me a phone with a removable battery and an SD Card, I’ll buy an HTC next year. If not, well, HTC may not be around in 2015.

  • FYLegend21

    Typical report in Taiwanese media, insiders blaming the one at the highest rank. It’s more like corruption from the people underneath. Same applies in politics – nearly every problem is blamed on Ma Ying Jeou. His political party aims to bring better relations with China but the opposition who supports independence accuse him of selling Taiwan to China. As if either party isn’t corrupt.

    Same goes with HTC. Cher Wang received some backlash from the opposition over her support of President Ma. There are those who accuse HTC of “selling” itself to China, because Wang called HTC a Chinese brand in an event in China. Critics also say they’d rather buy Samsung which is utter hypocrisy, because anti-Korean sentiment is not uncommon in Taiwan.

    Note: I do not support any political party in Taiwan.

  • Alexandana Theng

    If android, i go to Samsung or LG instead because they understand what i want. HTC will never ever know what the customer need. I can get a better phone in lower price from Samsung or LG

  • Ruz

    I have an advise for HTC.. make me the ceo of the company and see the difference it will make to the company