A little shy of a year ago, I wrote an article optimistically-titled “HTC: Do you still want to be “quietly brilliant?“ in which I highlighted everything HTC was doing right in 2012 to make a comeback, after an extremely poor 2011. As we now know, 2012 didn’t work out any better for the company, with Samsung running away with the Android crowd courtesy of the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2, and LG making a name for itself in the majors, with the Optimus G and the Nexus 4.
That being said, my feelings haven’t changed. Even right now, I’d hold a HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S3 next to each other and pick the One X, although I’ll be disagreeing with over 50 million people. I still think that HTC comes up with some great devices, at least as far as design aesthetics are concerned. Temple Run 2 works equally smoothly on my phone as it does on a friend’s Galaxy Note 2 or Nexus 4, and that is the only benchmark test I need. Needless to say, I’m biased. I know it. Now you know it.
So you know that the upcoming harsh words are very difficult to write. Nothing is worse than when a fan becomes critical, but (infinite) patience can only take you so far. Let’s take a look at why tomorrow, the launch of the HTC One, is make or break for the company.
What went wrong in 2012?
Anticipation. Anticipation. Anticipation. Unfortunately for HTC, it was anticipation for the Samsung Galaxy S3.
HTC started off the year right. Three amazing devices making up the One series of smartphones were announced at MWC. With no real competition around at the time of release, devices like the HTC One X and One S were definitely winners. But that’s when things started to go wrong. The rumor whirlwind surrounding the Samsung Galaxy S3 was at full strength, without a day going by which didn’t have a new image or specs leak. People decided to wait and see what Samsung had to offer, and the first benchmark comparison after the device released “proved” that the S3 was better. Decision made.
But, HTC had a head start. After all, the Samsung Galaxy S3 didn’t release till May. So surely the company must have sold a lot of devices in the interim! Not quite. By this point, HTC had already cut its Q2 forecast sales target because of weak demand in Europe, and a U.S. release was nowhere in sight because of a temporary import ban imposed by ITC. By the time the One X and One S launched in the U.S., the Samsung Galaxy S3 was on its way, and the rest is history (for Samsung that is).
Then arrived the HTC One X+. I’m not sure why, or what the target consumer base was for the device. Yes, it featured Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on-board, skinned with an updated Sense UI (Sense 4+), and a slightly larger battery, which was mostly to compensate for the more powerful processor. Available at the same time was the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, the LG Optimus G, and arriving soon was the Nexus 4. If the One X+ had 2GB of RAM, I would have made a case for bad luck or poor timing, but at that point in time, the One X+ was just a comparatively inferior device. Something I’d mentioned in my article last year was the fact that in 2011, HTC released a host of devices with just minor differences/upgrades between them, and the release of the One X+ was a flashback to that disappointing decision-making process.
Will 2013 be any different?
2012 sort of ended on a high for the company, with the release of the HTC Butterfly (or Droid DNA, depending on where you are), introducing the world to 1080p True HD display. This will definitely be the standard for display technology on high-end devices from all manufacturers, but HTC was the first to the party. Of course, “fashionably late” is the way to go at a party, so maybe the company jumped the gun once again.
HTC’s success this year depends almost entirely on the HTC One (previously known as the HTC M7,) which is being launched tomorrow. Whether the leaks were manufactured or just unfortunate, by now, we know almost everything there is to know about the HTC One, including hardware specifications, design, and software. Not to mention the “teaser” videos released by the company practically confirming the design of the smartphone. There isn’t much to look forward to at tomorrow’s press event except for confirmation, unless you’re interested in any of the other devices the company has to offer, like the M4 and G2, along with the possibility of a tablet. There’s no doubt that the HTC One is going to be a stunning device. But so was the One X. So I’m not going to be talking about why the HTC One SHOULD be a success. Going back to question, will 2013 be any different?
Partially responsible for the poor showing by HTC last year was competitor hype, and this year, it’s even worse. Apart from the rumors surrounding the Samsung Galaxy S4, which are in full flow yet again, the HTC One is also going up against the LG Optimus G Pro (even though the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is the more likely target of this device) and the highly-anticipated Sony Xperia Z and Xperia ZL. The HTC One has to be incredibly impressive to stand out in this highly-competitive arena, and if this isn’t the case, unfortunately, things will only go further downhill for the company.
HTC has fallen a long way from being market leaders in the Android world. A return to its former glory rests on the HTC One, and it will only be a few short hours before we know whether this device can carry the burden or not. The fight for dominance in the Android world is getting worse, and if the HTC One proves unworthy, it may well be “One and done” for the company. I thought 2012 was the comeback year for HTC, but I was wrong. Here’s to hoping that I’ve got it right this time around.
That being said, I’m still a fan, so I know I’ll be buying the HTC One when it’s released. The question is, will you?
Android Authority will be at HTC’s press event tomorrow, so stay tuned for our in-depth coverage as and when it happens.
What are your thoughts? How important do you think the success of the HTC One is for the company? Will you buying the flagship device? Is 2013 is the comeback year for HTC?