HTC One is perfect example of why HTC will not succeed — they fail at marketing [Opinion]

htc_logoPrior to last year, HTC followed the pollute-the-market-with-as-many-phones-as-possible approach instead of the create-a-brand approach. But, after the post-iPhone 4S slaughter, HTC realized they will never be able to fight off Apple and Samsung without a brand that is as recognizable, if not more, than iPhone and Galaxy S. So HTC went about creating that brand last year, with the launch of HTC One X (their flagship device for 2012) and HTC One S (a mid range, cheaper alternative). The brand, of course, was supposed to be ‘HTC One’ with different models being given their own respective letters.

Both HTC One X and HTC One S were hailed by reviewers and techies as being excellent; the HTC One X particularly impressed a lot of people, some of whom declared it better than Galaxy S III, Samsung’s blockbuster hit of 2012. However, the devices flopped — very few people bought them. Why? It isn’t entirely clear but I speculate it has to do with poor battery life (HTC is notorious for poor battery life) and the fact that HTC just couldn’t get enough carriers to sell the HTC One X (e.g. in USA AT&T was only carrier that had it).

After 2012’s fail, HTC went back to the drawing board to address the flaws in HTC One X and develop a better smartphone for this year. The result? HTC One, HTC’s flagship for 2013 that improves upon the HTC One X in many key areas including carrier available (launching with 185 carriers worldwide, including T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T in the USA) and better battery life (in theory anyway; the phone has a bigger battery than HTC One X but only independent tests and real world usage will reveal how good or bad the battery life is). However, no matter how good a device is, it won’t sell unless consumers know about it. Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, himself recognizes the needs of proper marketing, admitting “we just need to let people know all of these HTC innovations”. Too bad HTC has shot themselves in the foot from the get-go.

Two very important traits of a brand is clarity and recognizably (aka easy to remember). The ‘HTC One’ brand is definitely easy to remember and/or recognize. However, due to how HTC released multiple HTC One branded devices last year (e.g. HTC One X, HTC One S, HTC One X+, etc.), the brand is very convoluted. As our very own Locutus puts it:

If I offered you a free smartphone from this list, which one would you choose?

– HTC One X
– HTC One S
– HTC One V
– HTC One X+
– HTC One SV
– HTC One

I tried this a few times today. It was actually pretty entertaining; most people chose the One X+ because it had the Plus. Thanks, HTC marketing!

In other words, it is extremely confusing to the average Joe to differentiate between the various ‘HTC One’ smartphones; most people will be (are) unable to identify the new HTC One as the latest, best one out of the lot.

HTC has made a huge big blunder in naming their 2013 flagship device HTC One. I understand why they did it; to grow their HTC One brand. However, in attempting to further their cause they have essentially taken a step backwards — literally (HTC One X+ -> HTC One).

So, then, you are probably wondering: “Okay, genius, what should they have done?” Well, before I answer your question, let me thank you for calling me a genius. Now, with that out of the way, my answer is simple: use a different brand.

Yes, yes, I know HTC has put a lot of effort into the HTC One brand, which is why I’m sure they decided to go with it for 2013. The issue is, as already mentioned, going with HTC One after you have already had HTC One X+, HTC One SV, etc. is very, very confusing. So instead of confusing themselves out of the market, HTC would have been better off going with a different brand. They would have avoided the confusion at the cost of a brand that wasn’t (isn’t) that popular anyway.

My recommendation? Instead of ‘HTC One’, HTC should have gone with ‘HTC Two’. Not only would this brand loosely tie with what HTC started last year (thus not all the branding effort of 2012 would go to waste) but it would greatly alleviate the confusion consumers are going to face with HTC One. Plus it would allow HTC a logical progression for the future (e.g. ‘HTC Three’ for 2014, ‘HTC Four’ for 2015, etc.) and it would allow HTC to tinker with different models throughout the year (e.g. ‘HTC Two’ is flagship while ‘HTC Two Jr’ is mid range version) without violating the branding for next year.

Look at that HTC. I just gave you better marketing advice than the marketing “professionals” you pay thousands of dollars to. And my advice is free. The least you can do now is buy me a new phone to replace my aging Nexus S. I’d prefer a Samsung Galaxy Note II but I’m guessing that ain’t gonna happen… so a HTC One will do. Thanks.

Related Posts

  • Dragon

    nice sense of humor :D and true in every paragraph

  • Art K

    Not only is HTC Two a better choice, it is the obvious choice. It was the first thing I (and I am sure many others), thought of when I started reading your article.

  • Smart3go

    If only your advice applies to Apple’s phone and/or tablet: The iPhone 5 is the sixth and tallest weird resolution iPhone and “new iPad” with old aspect ratio which is greater than the “golden ratio” that got followed by the iPad mini and the same size iPad 3.
    If only someone solves the American consumer dilemma: buy the well publicized device not the best nor cheapest. Let me add my two cents: consumer support after subsidized/discounted devices is the only drive for the user easy earned green for the manufacturer.

  • mukhi

    great analysis. in india, every smartphone buyer knows HTC makes great phones, but almost nobody buys it, LOL.

  • Ashraf

    [@Enrique] Thanks Enrique! I’d assume PS4 will be PS4… Sony isn’t in a position to gamble with one of their main products.

  • Enrique

    Yep, HTC Two would’ve been so much better. Which reminds me, Sony better go with PS4 when they announce the next PlayStation, or you can lump them together with HTC.

    Great article Ashraf! :)