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.
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.
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?
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I used to love HTC phones but the battery life of the Desire HD was awful and I vowed never to buy from them again until they fixed that. So far they still haven’t learned that lesson.
they wont, because they haven’t learn to listen to their customer
My first android phone was an htc evo 4g, I freaking loved it, especially since i would root it and install custom roms, over a million different roms, heck we can even run android 4.2, with limited fuuctionality of course.
Until HTC learns to stop making carrier exclusives, they’re done and don’t exist to me.
“People decided to wait and see what Samsung had to offer”
Does it really work like that for you guys in the US? I mean, not _you_ you, but the people, the masses. I seriously doubt any of that, and I think tech bloggers say this because _they_ know what’s going on, _they_’d rather wait, but the common folks? They don’t care, they don’t know, they go to the stores when they want to / have to buy something new and see what’s there – they don’t follow tech blogs once a week to see what they should look forward to. I don’t know, that’s my experience in my country, at least… I just don’t think anticipation for an unannounced product was _the_ big villain for HTC.
Actually, in the US it’s different because some people have to depend on whenever their contracts are up for renewal to upgrade their devices. I’m in India (although I’ve lived in the US longer than I have in India) and here there aren’t any carrier constraints. Since most of these devices (one X, S3, etc.) are priced very similarly, I can, and consumers did, wait to see what the S3 had to offer before making a choice between the two.
And it isn’t really about following a tech blog regularly. If you’re say, planning to buy a new phone and are thinking between let’s say the One X, S3, and optimus 4X HD. A simple google search will show you page 1 headlines along the lines of “S3 destroys One X in benchmark tests.” You don’t even have to read the article, you’ll feel like you know everything. Like I said, decision made.
If you do follow a tech blog regularly, you can’t help but wait. Even right now, we’re talking about the Xperia Z and the HTC One……..but in the back of everyone’s mind is the fact that the S4 might come out with Exynos 5 Octa (8 cores!) processor. Yes, that is 4 backup/replacement cores……but for the layman, that’s 8 cores in a phone! Wouldn’t you wait to see what the S4 had to offer?
Updates that’s what keeps a lot of people getting a HTC.
I decided not to wait for the s3 last year and went with the htc one s even though it was supposed to be a low end phone. At the time I had been a long time fan of Samsung but was disappointed by the lack of updates on my devices. I love my htc ones despite the fact that it doesn’t have nfc capabilities. Even though I’ve made up with Samsung I’m not sure that the s4 will impress me enough to get it. And just so you know Silva, I do check tech blogs to see what the rumors are and I’m part of the masses :)
They need to stick with one name no matter what. Case in point: HTC DROID DNA and HTC Butterfly. It destroys brand recognition and creates confusion. Customers know about the flagship phones of other manufacturers: Galaxy S something or iPhone something.
I don’t know why they haven’t figured this out.
No removable storage/battery = no sales htc just remember that or it’s going to be a break (:
I love htc screen display, and also their build quality.
but their battery life is bad, and they had some disappointment in software dept.
had to use custom rom once warranty expired.
I also had LG phone in the past, lot of issue.
planning to get samsung device next.
I don’t know if im being a pessimist, but from what i have seen so far, the HTC One wont make it. Heck, IMO, the One X looks way better that this next flagship phone. I hope im wrong, would hate to see HTC leave the market, but i just don’t see the HTC One winning over a Galaxy S4 or an iPhone 5.
Comparing my OneX to the Nexus 4 is a good example of some HTC strengths and weaknesses. Sense 4+ still stinks not in the design and skin but the multi tasking. This is where the Nexus 4 destroys the One X if they don’t fix this in Sense 5 I won’t touch the HTC. Ok maybe I will take a peek at it. Battery life is better on the OneX than the Nexus perhaps that’s a trade off due to the multitasking or lack there of on the one x. The screen on the oneX has much more pop and the phone is lighter. If I had to choose between the two I would pick the Nexus 4 for the unadulterated Android OS clean and efficient and the fact that the nexus 4 feels much better in the hand and is more balanced.
Used to love the HD2…
I still say HTC has the best build quality for android.
I’m also rooting for HTC to make a come back but don’t see it happening unless they are the makers fo the Nexus 5. I was one of those who when the HTC One X came out decided to wait for the GS3 to compare. I initially went for the GS3 mainly because of the SD card slot. The GS3 had a lot of problems with the Bluetooth connection of my car so I decided to get the One X instead and I am very happy with it except for the fact that the battery life sometimes seems to burn right before my eyes.
I also find the fact that they have named the new phone HTC One a mistake as it seems like a step back from One X for the unsophisticated consumer.
I’m kind of with you on this. I’ve been clinging on to my DHD for over 2 years and it’s still pretty quick now that it’s on a JB ROM. I’d love to stick with HTC, I like them … but this One needs to be pretty special to retain me.
The call of the Samsung is just very loud.
This is said because I really loved HTC devices until it was time to replace my OG EVO. I had used HTC devices in the WinMo world and made a day 1 purchase of the EVO because of the devices I’d used before looked good and I felt were built pretty well. This phone looks nice, but is really a departure from the great looking and unique design of phones like the One X, etc. It looks more like a Samsung running Windows to me.