Why HTC Needs To Push It To 11 on Windows Phone


Earlier this week, HTC unveiled its gambit, the HTC One. It’s a showstopper cooked up by HTC’s technicians, designers and software programmers. Ultrapixels, 1080p screens with 468 ppi, Sense 5, dual stereo speakers with dedicated amplifiers, all crammed in a svelte aluminum casing dotted with a matrix pinhole design on the top and bottom bezels. Looking at it, it’s a magnificent piece of engineering, only rivaled by the Nokia Lumia 920 and iPhone 5 in design alone.

HTC created a predator for the Android Sea. It’s a chiseled beauty, dynamic, and sure to make other Android OEMs worry about their future offerings.

But despite its pedigree, it’s swimming in another Apex predator’s territory: Samsung. Make no mistake about it, the HTC One elevated the game, bringing the competition on notice that HTC is here to make noise, but a salvo nonetheless is coming from the likes of Samsung, LG and Motorola. If HTC expected a knockout punch via The One, they could very well be in for a long, ugly tit-for-tat fight with other OEM’s not willing to relinquish any market share. And the biggest one of all is Samsung with its Galaxy line of phones.

HTC and the Alternative

Android isn’t exactly an open field. HTC is going up against plenty of competition at plenty of price points. How it will manage to traverse its market position into healthier financials is something that will be answered in a couple of months once The One is released.

However, there are no guarantees. A secondary plan wouldn’t be a compromise but a necessity, and there are options for plan B to take effect. The Windows Phone market isn’t a jumble of OEMs competing admirably. It’s a game controlled by Nokia, but not insurmountable and with plenty of room to share the growth with. What we’ve seen from HTC in the Windows Phone camp has been a good first start, but if you plan on dethroning the Windows Phone market leader from Espo, you have to elevate your game to Nokia’s flagship offering.

Design alone won’t win you battles.

It’s clear Nokia has propelled itself on the back of its services and design combination. Cramming technology that you can’t find anywhere else in smartphones (OIS, Nokia apps, Qi wireless charging, etc), and delivering plenty of exclusives in way of apps to its customers well before the competition has been the winning recipe. Nothing in the Windows Phone camp (and to some extent Android) compares to what Nokia has created for the Lumia 920.

With HTC, they’ve clearly haven’t done enough to compete with Nokia in this regard. Colorful chassis, 16GB storage and no app exclusives don’t match the whole package that transcends to value. That doesn’t mean HTC can’t emulate Nokia and create its own unique flagship device. The One exemplifies that HTC can create compelling and desirable hardware. The only thing that is missing from HTC’s devices is the backing of exclusive software and the nifty bullet points that make you go “oh cool” when you read a spec sheet.

While Nokia can innovate in areas that have been its traditional strong suit, like its cameras, HTC can be its own leader with its strong linkage to the Beats’ sound technology and algorithms. Imagine if HTC could create a device that catered to audiophiles out there. A strong case could be made that a phone with high capacity storage (64GB please), Beats sound enhancements and addition of a good set of earbuds wouldn’t entice some customers out there?

How about app exclusives that you couldn’t get anywhere first but through an HTC phone? Imagine if HTC devices were the only phones that you could use and download Pandora, Spotify, 8Tracks, and other music related apps and services? Couple that with incentives like a free year of Xbox Music Pass or Pandora subscriptions and you can have plenty of people willing to buy an HTC phone over the competition.

It’s all about enticing customers with a full package that makes elegant hardware an elegant software solutions for people’s hobbies and wants. That, in its simplest form, is what HTC is lacking with their current Windows Phone offerings. While they’ve been dialing it in at around an 8, they should be turning it up to that decibel soaring 11 that will turn heads, and elevate the game in their Windows Phone devices.