HTC is going hard on marketing, but is the One enough to make HTC relevant again?
This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Obviously, the spec sheet of the HTC One looks amazing - 4.7-inch 1080p full HD screen with 468ppi, aluminum unibody, 9.3mm thin, 143 grams, 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, 2GB RAM, stereo front speakers, HDR microphone, 4G LTE, a 2,300mAh battery, and of course the HTC UltraPixel Camera. The trouble is that spec sheets don't tell the whole story.
Yes, the new Snapdragon 600 crushed the benchmarks that we saw, but we still don't know how many apps are optimized enough to make the processor noticeably faster than the competition in real life usage. The demo images we've seen from the HTC UltraPixel Camera look amazing, but then again so do most demo shots. As always, real world tests will tell the whole story. The real story starts when the device gets into the hands of the users. And, the process of getting your device into the hands of the users falls into 3 parts. First: get people into the store with your marketing campaign.HTC is going hard with its new advertising campaign, but we're not sure it's the right way to go.
There has been a lot of talk about HTC's 2.0 marketing campaign, and new CMO John Wang. The idea of the "Marketing 2.0" push at HTC was said to be in making "holistic marketing and mass-market brand outreach." As you can see with the new ad for the HTC One, it seems like Wang is going more for a passive-aggressive direction with the marketing. The text of the ad isn't so bad, but going with the headline "Everything your phone isn't" is a pretty bold claim. And, it's one that doesn't hold up too well until you get to the stereo speakers. The iPhone has a sleek aluminum unibody, and any Windows Phone or Android device can stream all of your favorite content to a certain extent. But, that brings us to the second way you make your device a winner: design.
Even if the text of the ad isn't the best, the phone itself looks very interesting, which could be enough to get users interested. And, as we learned with our hands-on, the HTC One is designed beautifully. It looks gorgeous, and feels great in the hand. It's the kind of device that you want to touch when you see it, so that helps a lot in getting it into the hands of users. At least, it gets the device into the hands of people already in the store. Once the device is in the users' hands, we get to the last piece of the puzzle: UI.
HTC put in a lot of good work with the Sense UI. Some will say that the Sense 5.0 UI is borrowing heavily from Windows Phone, but the truth is that plenty of products have been moving to a graphically intensive tile arrangement for content: Windows Phone/Windows 8, Flipboard, Google+/Google Currents, Pulse, even the PhoneArena website and other news sites like The Verge. It's a pretty simple idea: you need something that conveys information and works well on touchscreens, and a graphically intensive tile layout is one of the best ways to do that. The one trouble with Sense 5.0 is that it is quite a departure from established Android UI design.
HTC obviously needed something different, because what it had been doing wasn't working, but to remove all widgets and anything that users typically associate with Android in favor of the new BlinkFeed. Whatever the reason you may choose to explain Samsung's dominance of the Android market, the TouchWiz UI never strays too far from stock Android. HTC is taking a big risk in pushing this much of a UI change. It looks good, and it could very well work. At the very least, we're hoping that it doesn't add any more time to Android updates than a standard UI would.
HTC is kind of going for broke with the HTC One. The company has steadily been losing ground in the smartphone race, so it has to be aggressive in order to make up ground. The company has abandoned the low-end market, and has been focusing on the high-end, but it still hasn't been able to make a dent in the market control Samsung and Apple have. We thought that the HTC One X last year was a pretty solid entry, but it didn't really make any waves. The new HTC One looks even better than the One X, and has the added benefits of coming to three of the four major US carriers, which the One X couldn't say, as well as having a possible headstart on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Getting on Verizon would give the One the best shot possible to generate some buzz and sales before the next flagship Galaxy hits the market, so we'll have to see if that works out. As is, the HTC One has the design and specs to be a success, but we need to see more from this new "Marketing 2.0" strategy before we get too optimistic.