There have been numerous editorials written about HTC and the doldrums that the Taiwanese giant finds itself in today. Once synonymous with smartphones, HTC has hit a rocky patch. With newer players entering the smartphone world faster than ever, and with dogged competitors like Samsung, Apple and Motorola still going strong, the train is moving too fast for HTC to catch up. Following marketing blunders, bad pricing and some extremely strange product decisions, some would tell you it is just too late for HTC.
However, with the HTC10 set to be shown off to an ever-hungry and attack-minded world, most likely in April, here is what we think HTC should be focusing on to come back into reckoning.
1. Go back to the basics and write the series again
If too many cooks spoil the broth, too many supporting characters dilute the protagonist. This is something that has plagued not just HTC but also Samsung. With too many Desire phones, with the same models and minute SKU details, you are just lost in the line-up. Take the name of HTC Desire and honestly, I am still taken back to the original Desire Z, and not Desire 630 or 530 or 636. There is just so much confusion. HTC One M7, M8 were great, but starting M9, you have the M9+, the E9, E9+ and argh, just so many monikers.
If HTC wants to make a comeback, they have to do what they excel at, which is come up with incredibly well-designed phones.
With the M moniker rumoured to be on the way out and the new device slated to be called the HTC10, we hope HTC is beginning a cleanup. We are impressed with the way Samsung revamped things: there is an On series, there is an A series, there is a J series and there is the flagship Galaxy Series, all following similar naming convention. It's just easy to grasp. And please, a strict no to a 3G variant and a new name with a symbol for 4G version and such things. Just keep things simple, it helps everyone.
2. Play to your strengths
HTC One phones are best known for their build and looks, their BoomSound speakers, Sense UI and a fluid performance. HTC ditched the BoomSound for the recently announced HTC A9 and the design did not radically change from the M8 to the M9. The Sense UI too has not really changed all that much, even though it is still one of the best skins out there. If HTC wants to make a comeback, all the puzzle pieces must fit in together. They have to bring their best to the party and do what they excel at, which is come up with incredibly well-designed phones. The same cannot be said, for example, of a lot of Desire devices or even the latest A9, which was just dismissed as a blatant copy of the iPhone 6.
3. Stop trying to be different for the sake of being different
The experiments with UltraPixel cameras or a dual camera set-up were failures. It was very clear immediately after the first reviews came in. HTC should never have waited for as long as it did to make the switch and ditch them. There have been failures in the industry before, and unless you try something different, it is not possible to jump the curves, and we agree with all of that. But to know that something is not working and continue to press on it with minor modifications is setting yourself up for failure.
Most of the devices in the recent past have been grossly overpriced which has given competitors an upper hand right from the time of the launch.
4. Good pricing is a must
HTC has been notorious for pricing its phones badly. Most of the devices in the recent past have been grossly overpriced which has given competitors an upper hand right from the time of the launch. When you see the marketing efforts the likes of Apple and Samsung put into their devices, as compared to HTC, pricing your device would be absolutely critical. The HTC One M8, M9+ and the A9 all recently, started a few thousand rupees higher than what they should have been. Now, with the alarm bells loud and clear and SOS signs just a plunge away, HTC has got to price their next flagship well. It would be one of the most important factors in winning back the customers who seem to be abandoning them. To woo loyalists of brands like Samsung, Motorola, maybe even Apple, HTC has to do everything they are doing right and then price their product better, even if that means cutting their margins.
5. Market right
Remember those Robert Downey Jr. ads? Yes, the weird helicopter ones that left you scratching your head. No more of that HTC. There have been enough experts who have time and again criticized HTC's marketing strategy and that needs to be addressed. From not spending on marketing to absolutely splashing out on one campaign that did not do well, HTC has so far failed to find the right balance. We have seen several Chinese brands really use digital assets and build armies of evangelists in the form of fans, and that would be just as critical as a TVC done well or a good full page newspaper ad. All of this with a good product and you would see the spiral go back up.
HTC is a brand many of us have a soft corner for. If you are an old fart, it's possible that you have used their products and liked them. You want them to get things right and while we understand being an armchair commentator is the easiest job on the planet, we would be super-surprised if HTC did all the five things we stated above and still failed to make an impact. Your thoughts?
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