Why is HTC not throwing in the towel yet?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Why is HTC not throwing in the towel yet?
Among an onslaught of Galaxy Note 10, iPhone 11, and Pixel 4 leaks, you'd be forgiven for missing a far less important story in the grand scheme of today's mobile industry that may have however grabbed the attention of nostalgic fans of a classic Android smartphone brand earlier this week. A mid-range, overpriced HTC handset is gearing up for a European launch, which means HTC is somehow still alive.

This is a company that's been on its deathbed for a number of years now, bleeding money month after month and quarter after quarter, but even though its latest mainstream flagship handset is more than a year old with no sequel in sight, mediocre devices like the aforementioned Desire 19+ or outright bizarre products like the Exodus 1s are technically keeping the Taiwanese outfit in the mobile game.


While HTC's descent to market irrelevance has been analyzed before, you might be wondering exactly why the company is still in business. It's clearly not to give Apple and Samsung a run for their money right now, as was the case back in 2010 or 2011, but there must be a reason. Something that's stopping HTC from calling it quits altogether. Well, I actually have a few ideas, and as an ardent fan of classic designs like the HTC Dream, Wildfire, Nexus One, ThunderBolt, and especially the HTC One M8, I passionately hope one of these things will create the right opportunity for a spectacular comeback.

5G is the name of the game


It may not feel like that for the time being, but 5G will completely transform the industry as we know it... sooner or later. A number of market research firms are expecting global smartphone shipments to start growing again as 5G networks spread out and real-life download speeds get closer to the mind-blowing figures envisioned by carriers.


When the transition ultimately happens and 5G connectivity reaches the widespread adoption 4G LTE achieved a number of years ago, the market leader chart could be very different from what it currently is. That's probably HTC's endgame, and while it's easy to mock the company for releasing a 5G hub when many competitors already have 5G phones out, that's actually not a bad start.

The Sprint-exclusive smart HTC 5G Hub maintains the company's close relationship with one of America's largest carriers, which could become even bigger soon enough by merging with T-Mobile. In fact, you may not remember this, but HTC made both Sprint's first 4G phone back in 2010 and Verizon's first 4G LTE handset the next year. Times have obviously changed since then, but as US carriers are unlikely to join forces with Chinese OEMs anytime soon, they could definitely turn their attention back to a trusted old partner like HTC.

Nostalgia overload


According to Counterpoint Research, HMD Global sold 4.8 million Nokia-branded smartphones around the world between April and June 2019. That may not sound substantial... until you realize the Nokia brand was in an even worse position than HTC is right now just three years ago. A little Finnish startup came and essentially brought Nokia back from the dead, riding a wave of nostalgia for the defunct company's crazy popular "dumb" phones.


At the same time, the new Nokia quickly adapted to modern trends, releasing a bunch of solidly built smartphones with clean Android, respectable specifications, and aggressive prices. After a few years of hesitations and mostly failed experiments, HTC is expected to try something similar by reviving the Wildfire for a new cash-strapped audience. This sounds like the company's best idea in ages, but let's hope the upcoming Wildfire quartet will not be plagued by the same issues as recent Desire releases.

These need to be crazy affordable rather than regularly affordable and ideally run near-stock Android to minimize the risks of poor software support. Call me a dreamer, but if HTC pulls off this reimagined low to mid-end lineup, it can get back on the map and start building a comeback. Perhaps take a page from BlackBerry and try to revive physical keyboards as well. After all, the attention garnered by the F(x)tec Pro1 and Unihertz Titan projects proves there's still a lot of interest for QWERTY devices. Now picture a modernized HTC Dream with a slide-out hardware keyboard, a touchscreen, and a clean new version of Android. Droolworthy stuff, eh?

The market needs diversity and originality


For all its flaws and shortcomings, you can't fault HTC for playing things safe. This is the company that released the world's first Android handset, the one that did dual cameras before they were cool, and now its main gamble seems to be blockchain technology. Unfortunately, that's unlikely to pay off in the near future, and HTC might be running out of time and money soon. After all, the company generated a microscopic $14 million or so in July 2019 revenue on sales of both smartphones and virtual reality headsets. That's how much revenue Apple's iPhones generated every single hour during the year's second calendar quarter.


So, no, HTC can no longer afford to take any game-changing risks. But what it could definitely do is license out the brand to a company willing to try new things while respecting HTC's legacy and maintaining its ties with key US partners. Sounds almost utopian, I know, but there's a pretty massive gap between the world's top five smartphone vendors and the rest of the pack that could be filled by an ambitious outfit with a plan. Of course, the plan also needs to be right.

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27 Comments

1. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Sony, HTC, LG, Nokia and Blackberry are a thing in the past. Chinese phones will take over android in the next few years.

2. ijuanp03

Posts: 568; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

Only because they are super cheap. HTC et al are stubborn and brand pride prohibits them from selling at a very low profit margin.

28. cheetah2k

Posts: 2213; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Did everyone including the OP forget that Google owns the HTC mobile division?? As if they would give up when they're funded by Android itself.

3. surethom

Posts: 1662; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

They all have the same things in common, lack of innovation & almost zero advertising.

7. handsomparis

Posts: 118; Member since: Jun 11, 2015

I agree HTC once was a company that I though took inspiration from Nokia but I guess they was ahead of time!

11. User123456789

Posts: 818; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Copying design from Sharp and Apple is innovation? Offering phones without stereo speakers, no IP rating, no usb 3.1nor Gorilla6 too?

18. BL4NKF4CE

Posts: 128; Member since: Aug 06, 2017

HTC had proper front firing stereo speakers first (M7), at least on their flagships. Audio has always been a strong point on their phones, even on their newest flagship. From the M7 to the U12+. The U12+ also does have USB 3.1.

5. TBomb

Posts: 1394; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

They just have to find their place. They're not a thing of the past until they're a thing of the past, and they're not a thing of the past yet.

10. handsomparis

Posts: 118; Member since: Jun 11, 2015

true but it doesn't seem like they are doing anything to try to stay relevant in the hardware business

14. MrMalignance

Posts: 295; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

I agree with Tbomb. I also agree that they aren't presenting much lately. It seems that they are being overly cautious, but that's to be expected as their reputation has been shredded

9. User123456789

Posts: 818; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

From who chinese will copy stuff?

13. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2340; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I’m not sure you understand that Blackberry is made by TCL, which is a Chinese brand. And Nokia is no longer a thing of the past ever since HMD Global remade them. So I’m not sure where you are getting your information from??

19. BL4NKF4CE

Posts: 128; Member since: Aug 06, 2017

Nokia and BlackBerry ARE Chinese phones now.

25. strawberry

Posts: 91; Member since: Feb 20, 2019

waiting for the day where samsung and apple market shares go to less than 1% and 99% china phones

4. axc06j

Posts: 26; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

honestly forgot they were still in the cell phone game?

6. Cat97

Posts: 1861; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Because they are so broke (as a result of their own stupid decisions) that they can't even afford a towel.

8. handsomparis

Posts: 118; Member since: Jun 11, 2015

exactly HTC has made some questionable acquisitions in the past that took away from they revenue

29. cheetah2k

Posts: 2213; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

But owned by Google. That makes them broke? LOL!

31. handsomparis

Posts: 118; Member since: Jun 11, 2015

Actually, Google doesn’t own HTC. Google just bought HTC mobile division team, but HTC still makes phones and the Vive.https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/ryanwhitwam/2018/01/30/google-completes-1-1-billion-acquisition-of-htc-design-team/amp/

12. ECPirate37

Posts: 319; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

I was a big HTC fanboy. The EVO 3D is STILL my favorite phone I've ever had. I've said if they came out with a successor to that, I would buy it day one. Even if it wasn't 3D, but that design was awesome to me. I would just add a second set of speakers at the bottom to mirror the top and make the phone bigger, and day one purchase. Although I do REALLY miss having a 3D phone.

20. Kriegsherr unregistered

Me too. I have used htc dream, htc wildfire, and htc EVO 3D. my wife had htc M8 and now using U Ultra. All were awesome phone. htc was the best android phone maker. but now their design department is too stupid to come up with a good phone.

24. handsomparis

Posts: 118; Member since: Jun 11, 2015

Man I loved the evo! But my favorite was the Touch diamond ,and HD2 I loved them phones.

15. rkoforever90

Posts: 435; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

A one plus like device is all they need a near flagship phone for 700$.is it so hard for them to get this idea.? They are too small of a company to compete with Samsung and Apple.

16. Sealblaighter

Posts: 427; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

The flagship is coming soon do not worry! Probably at IFA, their first 5G phone will be announced as far as I know.

17. cmdacos

Posts: 4100; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

HTC did throw in the towel. Doesnt stop them from putting out phones though.

27. ike301

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 11, 2019

LG mobile will soon be another to bite the dust if they don't get their act together. Who the hell is in charge over there?

30. CEDEOTB

Posts: 391; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

Just bring back everything that made you famous htc; Boomsound speakers. The metal unibody The sapphire display. Edge Sense. It's not that hard. Just accompany those features with an; 855 8gb of Ram Keep symmetrical bezels without a notch or cutout Use atleast a 4300mah battery 90hz display. And please.... A headphone jack!

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