HTC CEO Peter Chou

It's no secret that HTC's worldwide market share in smartphones is small -- and declining -- but CEO Peter Chou seems optimistic for the future of the Taiwanese manufacturer. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Chou expressed that although HTC has been outpaced in smartphones by the likes of Samsung and Apple since 2010, the worst is behind the company now. With international market share of about 2.2-percent, the numbers just don't reflect the high-quality products Android OEM has to offer. HTC's relatively small size and cash holdings put it at a disadvantage to the larger companies out there, but the Chou explains that a refocusing on proper marketing -- with a new marketing chief -- will be the key to improvement in 2013.

"Although we don't have as much money to counter [Samsung and Apple], the most important thing is to have unique products that appeal to consumers."

The quote from Mr. Chou fits with what many HTC fans have been saying continuously, but unfortunately the general consumer market hasn't reflected that. He hopes that the upcoming changes and reorganizations (no specifics given) inside the company will let it react quicker to changing markets to bring more compelling products to consumers in the future.

Source: WSJ

 

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CEO Peter Chou talks about HTC's future

47 Comments

It’s not enough to make excellent products. I purchased an HTC Flyer in the summer of 2011. I understood why the price was so high (the digitizer) and didn't mind paying. I liked the device, even though the stylus support was limited. I expected that to improve with each new version of the OS. I was angry when HTC ended upgrade support for the product less than a year after I bought it. I won’t buy anything new from HTC because I’m afraid it will be orphaned like the Flyer.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the HTC Flyer was a fluke. (Seriously? A tablet running Gingerbread with a single-core CPU released in the middle of 2011? No.) Have you seen any tablets from HTC recently? Neither have I; that's because HTC doesn't seem to "get" tablets and have apparently have refocused on what they do best: smartphones. As long as you go for the mid- to high-end, HTC will not orphan your phone. HTC currently has at least one good phone on every major US carrier. The Droid DNA, One X+, EVO 4G LTE, and One S (or an unlocked international One X+ off-contract) are all great choices, and one can reasonably expect HTC to support them for at least another year, if not well into 2014. If not, there's always custom ROM's. :-)

Upgrade support after a year is pretty much non-existent for most devices. This isn't an HTC issue, it's industry wide. Notable exceptions being the Nexus line and Apple products.

That's true. Their Playbook gets frequent updates. I have a Playbook here at home and I frequently update it. Their phones also get tons of updates, but the carriers take FOREVER to approve them. I remember from my BB days flashing a new OS every month or so! haha.

HTC have you learned from Apple & Samsung yet? One phone, the same phone, a flagship phone, once a year on all carriers makes updating easier. Now market that one phone like you're crazy.

And don't make off-shoots!

That's good, HTC surged during 2008-2010 and then flat lined afterwards, I do hope that HTC comes back in a big way because they are a great phone manufacturer.

I switched my iphone 4S for an HTC One X. I have no regrets, as the phone is well made. However HTC is VERY slow to roll out OS updates to their phones. I hope they make improvements and capture some of the market share for phones, as their phones are well made.

I like HTC, not sure how the HTC FLYER tablet went but I have a HTC EVO (original) and EVO shift. After 2 years (2010-2012) my HTC EVO got Eclair, to FROYO, to gingerbread! (Didn't think it would make it to that honestly) the EVO line is probably the best from HTC because its what put them in the US nearly. I'm still using my HTC EVO until a device I actually want comes out (Maybe a new EVO in 2013 now ..? Even tho we just got the LTE late spring.) Htc makes the best quality devices. Sturdy and professional looking rather than a plastic samsung device. Also I like how they changed certain things.. HTC EVO original released with a 003 screen that has many problems and then they changed the screen ans got 004 I per fur the 004 way better and like how the actually kept my phone living longer than MOST phones! (With the exception for the iPhone)

I gave up on htc after DINC2. I got tired of its low battery life and weak radio signal. With big screen and stellar processor from Samsung and super battery life and solid build from Motorola, I have to have a really good reason to come back and htc just hasn't provided any (Droid DNA is not it). I hope it will do better in 2013 (stop coming out with so many different version of the "One" series, just two or three stellar version of One will do fine).

This. We're not in the dark ages of <= Froyo anymore. Holo is a truly amazing UI, and no matter how good Sense gets it'll always play second fiddle as Android as a platform did not change to suit it, it changed to suit Holo. If they adopted stock, not only would their phones become way easier to make sense of, they would also attract power users more than they already do. Its a win-win for everyone except the carriers... but given their #2 status among Android manufactures I'm sure they could do something about it.

Stock android simply doesn't have the eye candy that attracts regular everyday customers. The only person that will beg for a stock android device are the enthusiasts which unfortunately only accounts for a very small fraction of the overall customer base. Seriously, how many regular customers would walk into to a cell phone store and pick out a nexus over other high end devices? Sorry that just doesn't happen at all. What they should do though is make sense easily uninstallable for those that don't want it.

Sense's biggest problem is its lack of performance and memory optimization. That's something that a team of good software engineers could probably fix in a few months without changing the UI design too much. HTC designs Sense well, but they don't optimize it well. Sense 4+ with Jelly Bean is a great improvement over Sense 4.0/4.1, but more work is needed, especially with the memory management. Maybe 2 GB of RAM will help (I speak from experience on the EVO LTE, which has 1 GB). The homescreen should almost never have to be redrawn. If they just improve performance and drastically reduce homescreen redraws, I will be quite satisfied with Sense. Here's hoping they do that this year.

They have GREAT hardware. They just need to spend less time trying to make things look 3-D fancy OS wise, and more time getting updates out in a timely manner. If they can't get an update out for a phone in less than 30 days when the OS changes, they have too much crap involved. Sometimes less is more!

30 days is an unreasonable expectation for any manufacturer. A few have done it on a few phones, but it's not commonplace for any phone that doesn't have Nexus in the name. 6 months is currently a reasonable expectation. I'd like to see that reduced as much as the next guy, but that's the way it is right now. Goal for 2013: reduce the reasonable wait time to 3-5 months.

I LOVE HTC designs and build quality! But I HATE their update rates. They always take forever. Rule of thumb with HTC, if you want a phone, you HAVE to be content with the way it is out of the box because who knows if you'll get a future update or not.

Now, Samsung on the other hand (with money or not) updates their phone frequently. I had the S2, Note and now Note 2 (and a few trial phones between the note and note 2) and they're STILL Updating those S2 and Note devices! THAT'S awesome (and how it should be). I WAS Considering the One x or One X+ but I know HTC will forget about me rather quickly since they had already made their money from me buying their device.

I think it's a lame excuse to say that they don't have as much money. They have PLENTY of money for continued support and development for OS releases in a TIMELY manner. The people over at XDA don't get money and they push out updates REALLY quickly (and I know the process of getting an OS approved and such) but if XDA can do it, so can a giant company with hundreds upon hundreds of engineers and techs.

Just my 2 cents for whomever.

Or maybe the fact that they 1. make a million different devices for all the carriers, and 2. are terrible at updates and supporting their phones with the various bugs that sense brings and take forever to get fixed. Hope this new sense is better than previous versions.

I wish Htc well always will I ushered in my smartphone run with the grandaddy of all 4g android devices in June 2010 with the Htc Evo 4g. The issues Htc has today are software related not hardware. Samsung is KING OF ANDROID because of it's ability to have optimization of it's software and industry leading features. Like it or not Samsung is android plain and simple. Ps. Stand by for the Internet troll responding to my comment @squiddy20...He's a dope...

Ive seen you 2 go at it....thats great you called it before it happens. Like Peter Griffin running into the chicken........

Yes, you are correct. HTC's issues lie in the software, not the hardware. Here's hoping they devote the majority of their software development efforts in 2013 to optimizing performance and bringing some compelling features to the table. Advertising will certainly help, but customers won't be satisfied if the phone lags. Sense 4+ is a good improvement, but it's not quite as fast as AOSP-based ROM's yet. That needs to change.

I like HTC and they use to be my favorite phone maker. But to say they don't have money like Samsung and Apple, although true is total BS. HTC continues to fail to realize that they can no longer ride the wave of success that they had during the EVO era. The market has changed to one or two flagship phones, i mean look at Samsung and Apple. They have the iPhone and the GS3 and Note2. HTC has the One X the One X+ the DNA the DInc LTE and EVO LTE and so on. Why, is my question? When they said at the beginning of 2012 that they would make less phones, yes they made less phones than 2011 but they failed to deliver a brand name to consumers. The One series was and is a great phone but when Samsung pushes out updates faster than you and the GS3 came out after the one series, because they were busy making the One X+ with jelly bean instead of updating the current phones that are out it makes the consumer feel cheated because you already abandoned the original One X and it hadn't been out a good 6 months at that time. The model has been set yet HTC doesn't seem to get it stop spending money on multiple devices and make one flagship phone and stick with it and then you would have extra money like Apple and Samsung. I feel HTC just doesn't have the balls to tell the carriers to stop screwing with their phones like Apple and Samsung said. Until they do this they will sink no matter how great the build quality of their phones are.

Pretty much unfair criticism if you ask me.

MY original one x is still getting updates directly from HTC. Camera and contacts app updates pushed directlysince Christmas.

If you aren't getting them blame At&t, not HTC.

As for letting the carriers mess with the phone, remember the golden rule of business : he who has the gold makes the rules.

To their credit HTC has convinced AT&T to release the One X + with 64 gig up from 16.

First you complain that HTC releases phones too slowly, then you complain they release them too fast. Flip Flop much?

Well I am on sprint so I am not blaming either HTC nor ATT. Nor is my comment focused on HTC releasing phones to slowly. I know the golden rule HTC just doesn't have the reputation that it once had to bully the carriers around I understand that totally. My complaint is they focus to much on the next new phone instead of making a flagship phone stick with it for longer than 6 months to a year and maybe consumers will stop leaving them. I have a GS3 is samsung can push out updates to all carriers in a timely manner why can't HTC. i understand the carriers will slow down updates and they we cannot control, but the GS3 on almost every carrier has jelly bean yet the One X is just starting to get it internationally. Its not a carrier thing this go around its HTC plan and simple. I give HTC credit for that but the One X+ should have been the One X they knew it didn't have enough ram, they also knew it couldn't push out updates fast enough so they brought out the One X+. And I never said anything about them releasing a phone to slow or to fast, maybe you need read my comment again.

HTC, your formula for success is to listen to the customers. They have been failing to deliver features the customers craved, e.g. microSD and removable battery. And chasing gimmicks like the 3D camera doesn't help. People would have much preferred a killer 2D camera. Last but not least, Sense isn't bad but they need to stop focusing on ornamental features. Give people really useful features, like bringing phone to head while viewing contact to auto-dial. Deliver functions that improve the mobile phone experience, not simply make it look prettier.

Removable storage and removable batteries are "features the customers craved"? Please. Those are only necessary when big enough storage options aren't made available and the battery life sucks. If you think the One X+ and its 64 GB of storage still need expanding for the majority of consumers, you should consider seeing a psychiatrist. Same goes for the Motorola (Droid) RAZR MAXX (HD) and removable batteries. Ideally, a phone should get through a full day of use without a problem before charging overnight. This depends on the efficiency of the software, the efficiency of the hardware, the capacity of the battery, and how the user is using his/her phone. On the storage, 16 GB is fine for lots of people, but 32 and 64 GB options should be available for $50 and $100 more, respectively. Removable storage is nice for some people, but removable batteries are an increasingly niche feature.

I don't recall HTC releasing a phone with a 3D camera in 2012; I'm pretty sure the EVO 3D was the only one. The One X and its relatives actually DO have "a killer 2D camera." And yes, compelling software features like the one you mentioned would be quite welcome, indeed.

As I've been saying, their real problems are in 1) advertising, an area that should see some improvement this year, and 2) software, which hopefully should improve as well. Sense 4+ is really good, but it's not quite there yet. The 2 GB of RAM in the Droid DNA should help.

It is my opinion that most,(not all of course) people don't make their purchase decision for a phone based on build quality or how often they update the device. People who read this website may do that, but the average Joe or Jane out here does not spend their time with such matters.

For the average consumer it's all about brand recognition. Ask 10 people to name a phone that Apple makes and the iphone will roll right off their lips. Ask another 10 people to name a phone Samsung makes, and they will likely just say "Galaxy." However, ask about HTC and the look you'll get will be one of confusion.

Samsung and Apple have figured out that if you want to sell devices you have to have brand recognition and loyalty. HTC's new marketing chief I hope understands this, or their fortunes will remain low.

People want an Apple product because it's cool, and familiar. People want Samsung pretty much because you can't drive down the highway, turn on the tv, or open a magazine without seeing one of their Galaxy products staring a person right in the face.

So unless you are a tech geek or frequent sites like this one, HTC, LG, and a host of other really good OEM's get overlooked by the masses.

Quote:

"It is my opinion that most,(not all of course) people don't make their purchase decision for a phone based on build quality or how often they update the device. "

Agreed.

For most, advertising AND actual look and feel in the store when upgrading makes or breaks the deal. You don't have to match Samsung Dollar for Dollar in advertising, but you have to be present in the customer's mind.

HTC isnt very smart with their hardware or software. Samsung isnt either, but they could afford to change their hardware. The One X should have been released with a snapdragon s4 everywhere (instead of having 2 versions) and should have had an sd card slot. I say this because they ended up adding in an SD card to most of their phones anyway. They could have eliminated a lot of problems by streamlining their phones like samsung and apple did. and the one x+ didnt help with that (now the original one x wont get any updates after jellybean while its rival, the S3 will). When I buy a flagship i dont expect a new flagship 6 months later from the same company (samsung nor apple do that, unless you count the note 2 as a upgrade to the s3, but they are different devices). And I havent even started my rant on sense...

I doubt it, but hopefully, this year they can hold their ground against the carriers and release one phone. As in "F you, Sprint.. what part of 'One' X did you not understand"? Samsung gets a good return on their billboards b/c the S3, phone and brand, is intact on all carriers.

Although there are downsides to SD card expansion, the fact is it's an extra differentiator. 2 big reasons not to get an iPhone or N4: maybe removeable battery and SD card? Which phone has it? Maybe that phone that is advertised everywhere and is available on all carriers?

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is a top level Jelly Bean updated smartphone without a doubt the best camera (image sensor) on the market. Plus you have the brilliantly useful Sense 4.0 user interface, a hardware camera button, kickstand, scratch resistant Gorilla glass 2, and high quality machined aluminum unibody design (not plastic). Expandable SD card slot and Sprints truly unlimited data plan with essentially full rollout of LTE in 2013
plus enhanced clear voice technology.

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is the best, especially if you want to take the finest photos with the highest quality all around most functional smartphone.

Ditch Sense. I just got an One S on T-Mobile, and I've been considering taking it back and moving up to the S3. Only reason I've delayed is because I'm not sure what I hate is (non)Sense, or just the 4.0 version of Android. (I've got an N1, the first Samsung Tab, and a dead Xoom.)

Although select individual users have personal biases, the brilliant HTC Sense 4.0 user interface coupled with Jelly Bean has received outstanding reviews by practical all consumer electronics publications.

Years of professional experience has more credibility than many individual blow hard and unqualified statements.

And you will be frozen on time with an experience that an 'expert' liked for 2 years, unless you are very lucky. Anyway you will always be behind times, missing advancements that Nexus users enjoy. I'm not going to say that Samsung is better, but by removing Sense you can bring users to the leading edge instead of keeping them in the middle bunch with the poor Samsung/TW users.

I have had every EVO made. Sense doesn't make sense anymore and is ruining things. It's slow as hell. The JB update doesn't even allow you to do a two finger notification pull down. It's basically an OS without all of Android. Not to mention their browser (a high use component) is freaking balls slow. The S3 ics browser had Apple esk performance. EVO does have a decent camera but still not as good as I Phone 4s. The pictures are cold and low light performance and flash are still pathetic. I'm a huge fan of HTC but not anymore. Their product line is too fragmented and it's showing. The custom ROM support is greatly lacking because of this as well. Hell there wasn't even official CM10 builds for it. If they drop sense and make a single kickass phone on stock Android with a custom camera that is unbelievable then they will have a chance. My guess is that they are too stupid. Also, why yes us power users might be a small percentage we are also a huge influencer of less power users purchase choices

You are mistaken in the following ways:

1. Our EVO LTE's (I have one, too) received an update to 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. The 2-finger notification gesture was introduced in 4.2 Jelly Bean. Be patient, my friend. Name a feature of 4.1 Jelly Bean (that Google talked about in June at Google I/O) that HTC dropped; this would add an ounce of validity to your claim that Sense 4+ is "an OS without all of Android," something that assertion currently lacks. We got improved performance and Google Now, in addition to some launcher tweaks. EDIT: For some reason, I can't expand notifications. This may be an issue with my current custom ROM or my own fault, but it's most likely an issue with Sense 4+ that will be corrected in a future update.

2. I have found an excellent selection of custom ROM's for my phone. I don't know when you last checked, but CM10 has been official for the Jewel for a couple months now, and unofficial builds date back to sometime in July and became daily driver-ready sometime in August.

Is HTC management living in Mars? How is that they still blame marketing for their problems? No wonder why they are dying.

They focus their design on beautiful products that fill the eye of a naive buyer. But then that buyer goes home and notice that the battery is too small for normal use. HTC is so focused on making an impulse-purchase device that they compromise the whole after-purchase experience.

If they want to get rabid fans they must:
1. Continue to make high performance products. Not many - focus on 1 or 2 winners. But also offer lower end nice products. Again, just 1 or 2. The secret is focus. Let not your care and support for these products dilute. This is something that Apple does better than anyone.

2. Be creative on battery duration and expandability options. Android has a battery problem. Provide a solution! Hint: Think modular.

3. Commit on timely updates for a predefined time period. Say, for example: "We commit to release official versions of all Android OS updates released during the 18 months after the release of an HTC smartphone." And commit to a time frame, like "We warrant a release of a Sense version of each major Android update within a 6 month Window of getting the source from Google.". Six month is a long time, so better show the world that you can do it in half the time of your promised time (except, maybe on really major OS updates), and much faster for patches and minor updates.

4. Finally, what is wrong with the pure Android experience? Will HTC's bosses loose a limb if they give their users the option of an OS without Sense? The purpose of Sense is differentiation. Have you considered becoming different by being recognized as the fastest to market with OS updates? You can release OS updates much faster if you weren't spending time on Sense. Give the user the option to download the NonSense version now or wait 2 months for the Sense version. You will get surprised!

As many others have said.

HTC, it's time to ditch Sense.

Be the first OEM to offer stock Android (outside of Nexus devices). Create (or license) your own theme engine if you want to offer a unique look. Make your widgets usable without all the heavy handed modification of the framework. You can do it.

If you want to make a come back, you will do it. Speaking only for myself, I can't see myself even remotely considering an HTC phone (unless its a Nexus) if it has sense

P.S. I offer these ideas license and royalty free. Just do it.

Pete, you know why your company is failing to sell products?

What you said: "HTC will focus on making fewer devices in 2012, focusing on a 'Hero' strategy."

What actually happened:
GSM-only: One X, X+, XL, S, V, SV, VX; Desire C, X
Sprint: EVO 4G LTE
Verizon: Rhyme (wtf?), DROID Incredible 4G LTE (modified One S), DROID DNA

None of this includes your Windows Phones either, though the 8X is pretty nice (still, what are you going to call your next version that comes out in six months, the 8XXL+ 5G LTE-ADVANCED? Or are you going to just call it something entirely different?)

The asinine multitude of devices leads to weak software support for bugs and regular OTA updates. Customers, not just nerds, care about getting the latest features so they can use things on TV like Google Now and (eventually when Google markets it better) Photo Sphere. The reason Apple is so successful is because most devices within the last two years still get all the features that are being advertised in the media. Siri may be an exception for the 3GS/4, but those devices still run the latest software available to them much better than many Androids from merely a year ago can run Jelly Bean 4.2.

If you want to beat Apple (and Samsung) you need to focus on what you said January 2012: make just one or two hero devices a year and focus solely on marketing and supporting/updating them and their sequels for up to three years after their initial releases. Don't worry about low-end devices just yet since you have so little marketshare and money to play with.