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Will HTC join the likes of RIM and Palm? The handset maker has gone from sales superstar to treading water

Even as the death knells sound for Research in Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM), the smartphone industry may be close to claiming another casualty.  Faced with slumping sales and unable to compete with slick handsets from Apple, Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930), Taiwan's HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) is seeing shareholders jump ship as revenue and stock prices decline.

In 2010 and 2011 HTC was on fire.  Its handsets like EVO 4G propelled it from obscurity as a company who manufactured other companies' devices (an original device manufacturer) to an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) role.  Sales quadrupled in 18 months, and stock prices tripled.  At one point HTC was estimated to be the top smartphone seller in the U.S.

Then in late 2011, sales began to decline and profits plunged precipitously.  Today they stand 70 percent off their peak and HTC looks lost.  The company just released its chief financial officer Winston Yung and enlisted the help of ex-Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) financial veteran Chia-Lin Chang to salvage the leaking ship.

HTC Phone Quietly Brilliant
Quiet brilliance is no longer achieving success for HTC [Image Source: Reuters / Pichi Chuang]

While the shakeup may help HTC slightly on the financial front, the elephant in the room remains how the company can manage to attract customers.  Increasingly Apple versus Android has started to look like Samsung versus Apple, with fifth place HTC fading fast.

The situation may soon further deteriorate as Samsung has reportedly bumped its Galaxy S3 launch to May 3 in London, England.  HTC is reportedly scrambling to figure out what -- if any -- handset in its lineup can keep pace with Samsung's latest flagship entrant, which is virtually guaranteed to pack a gorgeous display, bleeding edge hardware internals, and slick packaging.

One thing's for sure -- with hungry players like Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1Vlusting for a piece of HTC's rapidly gained market share, things are looking increasingly troublesome for the Taiwanese gadgetmaker.  It needs a new game plan -- and fast.

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RE: Begun the Patent Wars have....
By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/2012 8:03:47 PM , Rating: 1
Well I don't know how many handsets HTC has sold since, but multiply that by $5 and I'm sure you come up with a big ass number of cash that COULD have been profits. I would call that "whopping", especially to a struggling HTC.

And yes HTC makes some good headsets, which they then completely ruin by installing their Sense bloatware to, which gives Android a bad rap.

RE: Begun the Patent Wars have....
By sprockkets on 4/17/2012 9:00:20 PM , Rating: 3
And yes HTC makes some good headsets, which they then completely ruin by installing their Sense bloatware to, which gives Android a bad rap.

Badmouth it if you must, but it allows better control over my music while locked, more features for the phone app like playing ringtones louder if in a pocket and also quieting it when I pick up the phone. I also like the picture being always set on where I put it.

I've tried it with and without it (on Android 4.0 that is). It just gives it a nice edge.

RE: Begun the Patent Wars have....
By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/2012 9:09:31 PM , Rating: 2
No no. I don't have a problem with Sense. I have a problem with people making blanket statements like "Android isn't smooth" when it's Sense that was the culprit.

Sense has come a long way, but you know, these people are stuck in the past. They think it's 2009 still and all the problems with Android are still there.

I'm glad you enjoy Sense because that's the strength of the Android platform. Customization and personalization, user freedom, and choice. These things are absent in iPhone's and WP7. I want to thank you for your post because I forgot this when stating my opinion on Sense. So many times we list a strength as a weakness because of a personal preference.

By sprockkets on 4/17/2012 9:29:05 PM , Rating: 2
Well to be fair trying it with and without Sense required rooting, making it carrier agnostic, then putting on Mike's Android Revolution version, then trying out the program that can tailor some ICS looks to Sense or flat out removes it.

Without Sense it flat out flies and is crazy smooth, but, I lost some nice features, like the ones on the HTC phone app already mentioned.

Oh well. It's the whole "If you had a clean install of Windows it wouldn't suck" all over again.

By Omega215D on 4/17/2012 10:22:40 PM , Rating: 2
I'd have to disagree there. I have both a Samsung Droid Charge and HTC Thunderbolt. The Thunderbolt is stock GB and is smooth unless really loaded down with widgets and background apps. The Droid Charge is a bit sluggish and I feel that Sense is much better choice than the TouchWiz.

Also, during the FroYo years, Sense gave the Thunderbolt some much needed tweaks and options that vanilla FroYo or even GB don't have.

Sense 3.0 was a bit too heavy with the resources while 3.5 and 4.0 are supposed to be light enough to run on older/ less powerful handsets.

RE: Begun the Patent Wars have....
By Paj on 4/18/2012 7:35:25 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah Sense 3 is a bit of a pig. I loved it on my Desire, which got me to choose HTC again for my next phone. However my Sensation is pretty sluggish and buggy - not a fan. Am wishing I got a Samsung.

Apart from that its a great skin - certainly better than touchwiz from what Ive read.

The new HTC One models are out running ICS with Sense, and theyre getting good reviews but have one or two significant drawbacks (battery life being the main one, a common problem for HTC). I dont think its enough to keep me from going to Samsung (or even WP7) for my next phone.

I think theyre starting to suffer from the same problem Sony is - telling customers what they want, instead of listening to them.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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