If you haven't paid much attention to the mobile world outside of Windows Phone, then you may not know that HTC is in a bind right now. Profits have plummeted, sales of their devices have slowed to a crawl, and they've even had a run-in with the U.S. Customs to delay their device launch plans (which are set in advance and are costly to move). The shining hope that was the One series handsets, in particular the heralded flagship One X, have performed below expectations and Samsung has nearly wiped the company's face off the planet with their Galaxy S III blockbuster launch.
So what could they possibly do? I think it's about time HTC took Windows Phone seriously again.
Everything to gain...
What good is it for a business to release a product and do next to nothing to market it, support it, or even talk about it? Not much good at all if you ask us, and that's exactly what the situation has been for HTC's Windows Phones. Device quality notwithstanding, the reason people buy phones is because they see them on TV, hear about it from their friends, or are convinced by a salesman to pick one up.
Granted, HTC has actually done some of this in the past with their Windows Phones. But it's always been halfhearted, like the random HTC Radar commercial in the U.S. that probably only aired for a grand total of two weeks last holiday season. More perplexing is the fact that there were zero advertisements for the HTC Titan, the first smartphone on the market to venture into the 4.7" screen size form factor, and even the Titan II which practically sells itself with a god damn 16-megapixel camera for crying out loud.
So I think it's safe to say that with Windows Phone 8, HTC has the opportunity to start over with a clean slate. They have everything to gain too, and they have little reason to fear Nokia right now in the U.S. market since HTC still commands more mindshare and sales presence. The company has demonstrated that they have the ability to innovate with Windows Phone hardware, like the aforementioned unique form factor of the original Titan and the camera specs of the Titan II. Even the Radar impressed with its low light-beating camera and its slick hardware -- especially at the low price it launched for.
They just need to go that extra mile, and most fans seem to agree with that. HTC needs to compete with Nokia for software exclusives, they need to compete at aggressive price points, and they need to show that there's more to them than just a weird looking skin on Android. As long as the company applies the same laser-focus as they did with the One series and piggyback off of the added mindshare of the Windows 8 launch and the Nokia hype, I think HTC could pull off a big comeback in the Windows Phone world this year.
...or everything to lose?
However, I'd be remiss if I didn't include the flip side to my argument. The problem right now is that HTC's financial situation may prevent them from taking a big risk on Windows Phone 8. Even more so after the big risk that was the One series, which has apparently not done as well as the company had hoped. The reason Nokia is so agile, fast and ferocious in their Windows Phone support right now is because it's their only option -- unlike other manufacturers, Nokia is sticking to one platform and that's it. Meanwhile HTC is a key player in the somehow-still-growing Android market, and while it hasn't been good to them in the past year, it still has more potential customers than Windows Phone does at the moment.
The company is most likely weighing its options at this point, and the risk associated to "doubling down" on Windows Phone might be too great. While I of course want to see HTC basically bet the company and go nuts with their Windows Phone 8 devices this year, I know it's unrealistic.
But releasing random phones across the world in a hodgepodge execution with little to no long-term support isn't going to win them any new customers either. HTC needs to at least show the industry that they're a good option for a rock-solid Windows Phone manufacturer too. If they can't do that, they'll lose everything anyway.