The HTC One X debacle: winners and losers

by: Bogdan PetrovanMay 19, 2012

htc one xOn Tuesday, news broke that US Customs had blocked imports of the HTC One X and the HTC EVO 4G LTE, effectively preventing HTC’s flagships from reaching American customers. The embargo was enforced due to an exclusion order by the International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC ruled back in December that HTC’s Android devices infringe on two of Apple’s patents, but gave the Taiwanese a respite until April 19 to remove the infringing features.

Although HTC claims that both the HTC One X and the EVO 4G LTE are now free of the infringing feature, it seems that the US Customs needs a lot of time to decide if that’s truly the case.

The most immediate and visible effect of this incident was the canceled debut of Sprint’s EVO 4G LTE, which left many customers (some of whom have pre-ordered the device) furious. It’s easy to blame Apple for the whole snafu (if you’re an Android fan), but I also wonder what HTC did or could have done to prevent such a high-profile embarrassment. Even Sprint could come under fire for scheduling a device launch before knowing for sure when the device will be available.

Regardless of who’s to blame, it’s increasingly obvious that this indefinite delay will have real consequences for all the players involved. Here’s how I see the winners and the losers of the game.

The winners

  • Apple – Although many have interpreted Apple’s legal victory from last December as merely symbolic, it appears now that ITC’s ruling is more than just a bureaucratic measure. Apple actually managed to disrupt (even if it’s just for a few days) two of the iPhone’s bigger competitors. Moreover, this affair will show the other Android OEMs that losing against Cupertino can have dead-serious consequences. I am not sure if the other manufacturers are affected in any way by ITC’s decision, but at least at a symbolic level, Apple has shown its killer instinct. Oh yeah, and the iPhone will probably sell better now.
  • Samsung – somewhere in Korea, someone smiled when news broke about the HTC embargo. The One X is the main competitor to Samsung’s freshly unveiled Galaxy S3, and many say that HTC’s device is superior to the much hyped S3. Every little obstacle that the One X (in its various incarnations) faces is a boon for Samsung. Although the Galaxy S3 is not out yet in the United States, even a brief absence will erode the One X’ position in the market. If the delay goes on for another week or two, some potential customers might even switch sides, provided that the Galaxy S3 gets a launch date anytime soon.
  • Nokia and Microsoft the battered Finnish and their Redmond-based buddies certainly won’t mind that the Lumia 900 enjoys some extra days in the spotlight on AT&T. Although some stores still have the One X in stock, most AT&T retail locations don’t have HTC’s device available in numbers. This extends the window of opportunity for the Lumia 900, which has been Ma Bell’s hero device for the last month or so. Sales of Nokia’s flagship are reportedly good, and this misstep from HTC is likely to improve them.

The losers

  • Apple Yes, Apple. This case has highlighted the way Apple wages its legal war against Android, often based on patents for trivial features. In this case, it’s tapping a phone number to get a context menu, but that’s not really important. Most comments on the articles that covered this story revolve on the “Apple sucks for this” theme. And I am not talking just about the Android sites. It seems to me that people are tired of seeing big companies (Motorola, Samsung, and others included) harass each other, especially when it directly affects consumers, like it happened now.
  • HTC – obviously, the Taiwanese can’t afford this type of mishap now. We are not talking about the glorious HTC from 2010. Today’s HTC is bleeding money, and the One X is the shot in the arm that was supposed to bring the company back to life. Even if the delay doesn’t go on for too much, I am almost sure that we will see its impact when HTC’s quarterly financial results are announced. Samsung Galaxy S3 is already breaking records, and it didn’t even begin to sell. Another week of uncertainty could cost HTC dearly, and it would be too bad, because the One X really is a beautiful device.
  • Sprint – the third largest carrier in the US had passed through some tough times lately, making a big strategic error by betting on the Wimax standard instead of LTE. After admitting defeat and jumping on the LTE bandwagon, Sprint hoped that the HTC EVO 4G LTE would be its ticket to a new era. With the iPhone coming at a blistering price for the company (as CEO Dan Hesse admitted), Android should have been a breath of fresh air for Sprint. The damage is still limited for now, but if the delay continues for another week or so, the repercussions will follow.

Tell me what you think. Who is the biggest winner and who is the biggest loser? Does this delay affect your purchasing decision?

  • Me

    Where is the power people. It would just take one lunch meeting between Sprint, ATT and Verizon to put Apple out of business. They just need to answer one question. Do we run our own company or does Apple. This is not a question of money, it’s a question of controll. If those three carriers dropped Apple it would crush them. Come guys show us what your made of and we will back you. It’s True the fact still remains that Apple’s exsistance still rely on a carrier do buy the phones. Not to mention the biggest player of all. Although Samsung might be happy that HTC has this problem Apple still sues them as well and Samsung is the one that makes that beautiful Ipad screen, without that screen there is no Ipad. Someone needs to put Apple it their place and show then that they are nothing with out their suppliers.

    • AppleFUD

      I have to give it to the late S. Jobs. He was a master at getting people, especially CEOs, to buy into the idea that they “needed apple’s devices” and couldn’t succeed without them.

      When Google was first working on Android their goal was an unlocked handset that would work on ANY carrier, be directly supported by them, etc. . . You know, the device we generally want and would break carrier control. The carriers unanimously told Google that they would NOT allow such a device onto their networks thus we have carrier controlled Android devices. But apple??? No problem! And they will bend over backwards for them. Cracks me up. Just goes to show you, you can convince nearly anyone of nearly anything.

  • I am quite agree with the writer who says Apple is a loser on this case,preventing customer to get there phoen just for trivial features.I hope the authority can move up and get the whole thing done ASAP.

  • elarella

    I think the big winner out of all of this would be HTC. Nowadays, it seems that bad publicity is good marketing for many companies. Consumers not aware of the One X, may flock to stores to see what the fuss is about over the One X, if there happens to be any on stock. The same bad publicity may have caused Apple to have shot themselves in the foot since they have now brought a small company into the spotlight. When they see that they can get more from their money with the One X, I think we’ll see sales skyrocket for the One series.

  • Hakuna93matata

    I think sooner or later unlock phones will be the new thing. Carriers will have the options to give customers lower rates non-contract deals or they will take their business elsewhere


    I am one of those who preordered the Evo LTEand am furious. I have always been disgusted by apple. Now more than ever. I have already seen sprint steer someone into purchasing an iPhone because the Evo wasn’t available (even though it would be if it weren’t for apple). And at other poster, good point about the hypocrisy regarding the original android intent of being unlocked, and carriers saying no, then bending over for apple. I think this is obviously a short term win for apple, but I hope HTC benefits from the publicity

  • JayZed

    You suck Apple.

  • Houstonwino

    Die Apple, die! I guess when you have such a limited, limiting device , when faced with actual innovation, dirty, sleazy, underhanded tactics with no regard for consumers, the economy, or the people that work for them should be expected from a company founded by a sleazebag who ripped off his own partners and spent years denying his own child.

  • Apple sucks. They are so worried about android taking over that they resort to blocking HTC android devices from coming to the US market. They need to spend their money on making a better and more competitive device. An 3.5 inch screen is so antiquated. They need to work on a 4g device of their instead of blocking the ones coming out. If any iPhone user ever try a high end android device they would never go back to iPhone. The android OS is far superior to Apple OS.

    • I have a Galaxy Nexus (on T-Mobile) and an iPhone 4s(At&t)….I use my Galaxy Nexus much more than I use my iPhone 4s. In fact, more people peak over to check out my GNex than my 4s, when I whip one or the other out.

  • David Guillot

    I think iFans always think the same way : Apple invented everything, it’s normal for them to block any concurrent product, because everybody copies Apple.

    People who buy Apple products don’t care about Apples behavior (otherwise they would have stopped buying iPhones after Foxconn scandal), so they won’t stop loving Apple just because Apple blocked products they would have criticized like hell anyway.

    It’s always the same : Apple wants to be all alone on the market, and iFans think everybody thinks like them. So Apple is a clear winner of this story.

  • Medicci3737

    Would like to see Anonymous go after Apple :)

  • SamsaraGuru

    There will come a point, no matter how the carriers and/or Apple may try to control the market by impeding its forward motion and re-routing that momentum into avenues that serve their own interests, that a point of diminishing returns will be reached; where fewer and fewer people are willing to buy into their proposition and the number of people foolish enough to sign away two years of their freedom will make the current paradigm a prescrition for bankruptcy.

    At that point, the type of phones Google envisioned – unlocked able to go from one carrier to the next – with people making their choices on matters that are truly relevant – like customer service; like a truly good network, etc., etc. will become the determining factor and the carriers will be forced to focus on truly giving value – rather than knowing they can rely on monthly payments based on servitude to a momentary lapse in judgement that caused someone to sign on the dotted line.

    In the meantime, to hasten that day, rest assured, when I buy a new phone it will be unlocked and will be able to be associated with a pay as you go carrier even if I do pay full price for it.

    It would be easier to convince Job to reup for a second set of boils, than it would be to convince me to go for another contract.

    Might be a good time to get your money out of cell phone carrier stock prior to the great collapse to come!

  • Apple are a-holes, but the real losers here are mobile customers – as usual. I’m off the Apple-cart.

  • TM

    The losers are the consumers. We have no control of a market that affects many of our lives integrally. In this case though, the culprit is not just Apple, it is HTC. Apple is using trivial, playground rules and highlighting severe limitations within the patent system (this is what needs fixing). In creating this “flagship” device, HTC created something that has many of the same “limits” as the iPhone. Namely, lack of expandable storage and a non-replaceable battery. It might as well be an iPhone clone with a (arguably) worse screen running Android. While Android inherently opens things up (except for censorship which it seems to share with Apple), the hardware is the advantage Google truly has. People will be arguing over which OS is better (flashier, smoother, more user friendly) and who has the best apps forever…it is a personal choice. On the hardware side it is hard to argue with someone handing an iPhone user a microsd card to give him a large set of files only to be told he can’t use it. Or when the juice runs out and the iPhone user is scurrying about looking for a plug while the Android user changes his battery.

  • Apple Knows Marketing that is why it is at the top thought it sucks
    Samsung is A great Company And has Started Is Becoming Top
    HTC is my Favorite Company. Many People think this is a fake company. HTC makes one of the best phones i would say and i would prefer HTC always

  • Neil

    My opinion is that the phone users benefit from the competition between the various manufacturers and phone companies. I like the Android system very much and have never had any interest in any of Apple’s products. But there are a lot of people that like their iPhones for whatever reason. That doesn’t affect me in the slightest. If it serves their purposes, then that is great for them.

  • Alpha

    I hate Apple previously, until some of my idea & work was copied by someone (the hates will force you will come out the idea go “sue” them)… now I am in the middle, the only to blame is why peoples don’t like to think and design their own??

  • How was it that HTC was not ready for such an eventuality, given a lot seems to be riding on this product for them? and this preparedness doesn’t come after the product is launched but right from it’s design. Samsung looks better prepared this time with S3 to avoid such infringements . The winners and losers are decided by how resilient and far seeing they are.

  • Guest

    The biggest loser is the people in US. Less and less they can say they have any freedom. (Me on the other hand bought the one x, it’s really good – and I was free to pay for it)