HTC One availability severely limited by issues with UltraPixel camera – industry sources

March 8, 2013
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Industry sources say that HTC is having trouble making enough camera modules for the new HTC One. As a result, the availability of the One could be severely limited in the next months.

You got to feel sorry for HTC. Once the champions of the Android world, the Taiwanese now seem caught in a death spiral. Just this week they reported the worst financial results in three years. The One is their (last?) hope of deliverance, but the signs are not good. In fact, they are awful.

A Taiwanese brokerage firm has cut their estimates for the number of One units that HTC would ship in the first half of 2013 by up to a massive 80 percent. The cuts are the result of “channel checks” ran by KGI Securities, that indicate HTC is having trouble securing crucial components required for mass production of the new flagship. The components are said to be the voice coil motor (VCM) and compact camera module (CCM) that go into the HTC One’s UltraPixel camera.

According to a KGI analyst, the yield rates for manufacturing the camera components are between 20% and 30% for the VCM and under 20% for the CCM. These are far below what can be considered a commercial yield. As a result, KGI says that HTC will only be able to ship between 800,000 and 1.2 million One units in the following months.

The UltraPixel camera is one of the pillars of HTC’s marketing strategy for the One. The company took a big risk with customers by opting for a novel 4MP sensor, at a time when most competitors are offering or planning to offer 13MP sensors. If these analyst predictions are accurate, the camera could ultimately be the downfall of the One, and possibly, of HTC.

Already, some signs indicate that HTC is trying to mitigate the impact of the yield issues, by delaying the launch of the One in smaller markets, like Singapore or Taiwan, in order to ensure supply in crucial markets like the US. HTC initially promised a global launch around March 15, but it now seems that big markets like China and Japan could get the One as late as May.

With Samsung preparing to unveil the Galaxy S4, and many other phone makers boasting competitive devices, HTC faces a bleak outlook if it can’t bring the One to market quickly. The brief window of opportunity that the company had is about to be slammed shut.

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