The excitement over the past few weeks over the launch of Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC one X and their subsequent arrival in India seem hardly to have died down when another high profile smartphone makes its way into the Indian shores. The HTC One S makes its debut in the Indian market and is available in popular ecommerce stores online. The real surprise however has been the pitching of the phone as a Flagship. Which begs the question:
Can two flagships survive on a single brand like the HTC One?
The case of 2 Flagships
HTC made a grand come back in the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona on February, 26th with the launch of its One Series of smartphones. While HTC One X made its mark as the first quad core smartphone in the world, HTC One S made its mark as the most powerful dual core smartphone in the market, beating the Samsung Galaxy S2 on several counts. However the biggest surprise came when the company pitched both these phones as two separate Flagships sending critics and gadget freaks into a raging debate over the sense of it all.
There are no parallels that can be drawn to this anywhere in the world. Not many cell phone manufacturers have launched two phones as flagships together under the same brand name. While HTC One X has been hailed as being the best smartphone produced by HTC in a long time and deserves the title of Flagship. Not many people have lapped up the same status attributed to the HTC One S, which is arguably the slimmest phone ever made by HTC and is just as capable as the One X.
HTC One X retails at an MRP of Rs 42,999, a price increase that took place recently to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S3 while the HTC One S makes its entry at a MRP of Rs 39,199. The phone is much more expensive than similar dual core processor smartphones from its competitors; Sony Xperia S (Rs 32, 549) and Samsung Galaxy S2 (Rs 32,999).
There is of course valid reason for the phone to be priced at a rate slightly above these phones and much below the quad core band of Rs 40,000. Which begs the question, how can a company price a product exorbitantly higher than similar class of products and expect to get away with it?
Sony Xperia S is a beautiful smartphone with some nice little touches to add to visual appeal and Samsung Galaxy S2 is the most popular android smartphone to date. It would be surprising to see HTC One S still attract consumers with its higher pricing.
Ecommerce may kill One S
The real story unfolds however not out in the offline retail space but in the burgeoning online market. HTC One X is available online at the price of Rs 33,999 significantly cheaper than its competitor the Samsung Galaxy S3 which is selling at Rs 38,890 (mainly due to pressure from Samsung). HTC One S has become available on Indian ecommerce stores from this week at a price of Rs 31,990. Its nearest competitors Samsung Galaxy S2 and Sony Xperia S sell at Rs 26,000 and Rs 28,899 respectively.
It seems obvious now that HTC One S will fight for relevance among consumers who can easily buy the top end HTC One X by shelling out just an extra Rs 1000 or even go for lower priced dual core alternatives such as the Xperia S instead of buying the HTC One S.
Indian ecommerce may have just killed a promising smartphone by its pricing. We can only hope common sense prevails and the pricing changes quickly.
How One S can be saved
HTC One S’s fate lies in the hands of ecommerce stores.
While HTC may have declared the phone as a flagship and priced it rather ambitiously at par with the quad core smartphones, ecommerce stores may not find many buyers for a phone priced at par with the more appealing HTC one X. HTC One S price has to fall and drastically in the coming months.
In a way, HTC One S is a flagship while considering the fact that the flagship of Sony is still the dual core Sony Xperia S and Samsung’s Galaxy S2 is still a hot selling phone. But the analogy ends there, the phone cannot compete on price with its older quad core giant screen behemoth sibling or with the super advanced Samsung Galaxy S3. The phone must ideally be priced somewhere below Rs 30,000 and I believe this is where HTC One S can finally find acceptance among consumers.
As the old Hindi proverb goes, “Two swords cannot fit in the same sheath”; HTC One X and HTC One S cannot jostle for space in an increasingly competitive market as Flagships. HTC One S may be a promising phone with some remarkable design innovation as well as some of the best hardware and UI experience ever produced by HTC, but the phone will have to find its place among the upper mid-range phones competing with the likes of Sony Xperia S and the dual core phones of Samsung such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Beam.
Indian ecommerce will make sure that two Flagships cannot survive in the same brand name. For the brand’s sake, I hope the company accedes to this change in stance.
[About the Author: Ashwin Sreekumar heads Marketing at MySmartprice and is an MS graduate from State University of New York, University at Buffalo. He has avid interest in eCommerce, marketing , technology and smartphones.]