HTC has been pioneers in the smartphone industry for over a decade now, bringing in the first touch screen smartphone, the first 3G capable phone, the world’s first android smartphone (HTC Dream) in 2008 and the first Windows Phone( HTC Mozart) in 2010. HTC has always remained a slightly weak competitor compared to the Apple and Nokia mobiles . Even in the last year, while the smartphone market has turned topsy turvy, HTC has remained more or less the runt of the group. This post explores the plight of HTC despite being Innovators in the market and also what it could do different.
The plight of HTC
2011 saw the rise of Samsung to become the flag bearers of Android and the Windows phone with the Galaxy and Omnia range respectively. Samsung usurped HTC in market share in both Windows and Android based smartphone segment by end of 2011. Given below is a snap shot of the plight of HTC in the year 2010-11 in which HTC moved from 8.5% to 6.5%.
The first half of 2011 saw a revival for HTC with the launch of its popular HTC Wildfire and the HTC Sensation, but Samsung’s Galaxy S and S2 ripped HTC’s loyalist away to pull itself to the top.
HTC’s Journey in 2011
HTC started the year with a bang in India, with the launch of the HTC Wildfire and HTC Desire HD.
HTC Wildfire sported a compact and sleek body with a 3.2” capacitive touchscreen. The phone ran on the Android 2.1 éclair( yes this is how fast Android grows) and a 0.5 GHz processor. The phone had a 5 MP camera that was one of its big selling points. Priced then at 16,500 the phone was one of the best deals for the mid-range smartphone segment. This was of course before Samsung revolutionized the mid-range smartphone segment with the Galaxy range.
HTC Desire HD is a mammoth among smartphones. With a massive 4.3” capacitive touchscreen display, an 8 MP camera and the latest Android software ( 2.2 froyo) the phone had everything going for it. That is except for a slightly less impressive display ( Retina display and Super AMOLED are a visual delight) and a slightly weaker battery than the Samsung Galaxy S and heavier built. Samsung Galaxy S2 came in mid 2011 to wipe out HTC Desire HD from the memories of Android fans.
Samsung had strong response to both the above mentioned models which left the HTC fans a little less thrilled. HTC loyalists could only hope for better results with HTC’s fight back with promising models such as HTC Explorer and HTC Sensation towards the last half of 2011.
HTC Explorer and HTC Sensation
HTC Explorer came to the Indian shores in the last quarter of 2011 and already it’s raising a lot of eyebrows. HTC Explorer is a solid phone for the entry level smartphone category. The phone sports a 3.2” capacitive touchscreen with a sleek metallic body. The phone runs on the Android 2.3 gingerbread operating system powered by a 600MHz processor with a 512 MB RAM. It is the most heavily promoted smartphone from HTC with Interesting Ad campaigns and a different approach in marketing. HTC Explorer is priced at Rs 9799 and is a great bargain for someone who wants the perfect smartphone experience at sub Rs 10000 price. Despite being priced higher than the Samsung Galaxy Fit, HTC Explorer is doing quite well in the market.
HTC Sensation is one of the premium offerings from HTC. The phone sports a massive 4.3” Super LCD touchscreen. HTC clearly loves big things and this phone is big on all features. The phone runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS powered by a 1.2 GHz dual core processor with a 768 MB RAM and 1 GB internal storage. Priced higher than the Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC has aimed to make the phone premium looking with a metallic cover that shows the phone means business. The phone comes with a mean 8MP camera and the beautiful HTC Sense V 3 UI. The HTC Sense UI is arguably the best customized android based UI among all smartphones. Priced at Rs 28,451, it is one HTC’s best attempts at laying siege to the ever aggressive Samsung. It remains one of the most popular premium end smartphones from HTC.
Samsung S2 however has outdone the HTC Sensation to provide better features for the same price. HTC, despite so many incredible models seem often outdone by Samsung in price and value for money terms. The phones have seemingly fallen short of expectations for most people despite HTC’s innovative offerings. Samsung have taken Android phone market by storm making Galaxy range almost synonymous with Android. It is this brand recall that has been missing for HTC.
The Road forward
With the launch of HTC Titan 2, HTC would now be looking forward to change its so far lackluster performance in the smartphone market. While innovation and being first have served HTC well in the past. It seems with increasing competition with multiple competitors in multiple Operating systems, HTC maybe spreading itself too thing. HTC Titan 2 is a promising phone, a massive screen, the fastest processor and a 16 MP camera that we can’t even put adjectives to ( mammoth feels too small a word) , the phone has everything going for it. Whether, HTC would have enough time building up a sizable market share before the Korean giants come swooping in is debatable.
The company must understand now that innovation isn’t enough to sell products, aggressive marketing and building consumer centric products is the only way HTC can be saved from oblivion.
HTC has been, is and will remain one of the most innovative companies in the smartphone segment. They have the constant urge to delight the world with great alternatives to the Apple iPhone. Increasing competition and shifting market trends have however hit HTC hard.
The company must now regroup and understand that innovation isn’t the only thing people need. Titan 2 and the promotion of HTC Explorer in Indian markets might just turn the tide for HTC. We are sure the great innovators will have some new trick up their sleeve.
What is your take on HTC’s performance in India?