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New marketing chief plans aggressive push for revival

Android smartphone maker HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) became the darling of the U.S. market via an aggressive reputation in 2010-2011 of pushing the hardware envelope.  But in 2012 it saw itself start to backslide as it became overwhelmed by fellow Android phonemaker Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) savvy marketing machine and delivered a handful of decent, yet uninspired releases (e.g. the HTC EVO 3D).  Apple, Inc. (AAPL) also surged ahead of HTC both in brand image and sales.

I. Getting Aggressive

Now vying for third place, HTC is determined to push harder on the hardware side with devices like the HTC One.  And while a buyer snub has delayed the HTC One, HTC plans to get more aggressive in the months leading up to whenever the device does get launched, shifting gears from its previous policy of friendly competition to an increasingly common policy of open belligerence.

Negativity works.  The market's top phonemaker Samsung reveled in a series of ads attacking Apple's "fanboys" (and girls).  Apple -- while keeping it pretty positive with iPhone advertising -- for years built its image of superiority by ripping on the "PC" brand, which it labeled as stodgy and uncool.

Samsung and Apple attack ads
Samsung (left) and Apple (right) road attack ads on their way to the top.

For HTC, getting negative begins with ditching the company's slogan -- "Quietly Brilliant".  HTC has not announced a replacement slogan, but based on recent efforts, the new feel is a lot like that of Apple and Samsung -- "Noisily Belligerent".

Pushing the change is new Chief Marketing Officer Benjamin Ho who joined HTC in November and started work in January.  One Asia's most savvy veteran marketers, Mr. Ho had previously served at a variety of Asian telecoms and the Asian unit of phonemaker Motorola, back in its dominant days in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  Mr. Ho left Motorola in 2003, well before it joined up with Android or got acquired by Google Inc. (GOOG).

HTC Benjamin Ho
Benjamin Ho (left) is boldly overhauling HTC's marketing and message.
[Image Source: MarketWeek]

Mr. Ho is not afraid to bluntly address issues.  Responding to rumors of the HTC One delay, he told members of the press, "Our friends in the media have been asking why there has been a delay in shipments for the new HTC One, whether there is a component shortage.  There is some shortage, because the phone’s camera was designed specifically for us, and production cannot be ramped up so quickly."

II. Benjamin Ho Leads Marketing Revival at HTC

He's sold the company management on deeply investing on better marketing -- or "Marketing 2.0" as he calls it.  This year HTC will double its traditional media advertising spending and increase digital advertising by a factor of 3.5x.  The move is carefully calculated by Mr. Ho to assault Samsung and Apple's industry-leading brand familiarity among non-technophiles.  It also represents a sharp reversal of HTC's previous plan to cut marketing spending in 2013, which it told investors in late 2012.

HTC quietly brilliant
HTC is no longer content to be "quiet". [Image Source: Reuters]

The fresh face is HTC's third CMO in two years, but Mr. Ho doesn't appear to be intimidated by lack of job security.  He comments on the decision to ditch the company's long-standing slogan, "We have a lot of innovations but we haven’t been loud enough."

HTC was certainly loud in attacking rival Samsung's Galaxy S IV launch on Twitter. Outside the launch location in New York City HTC made a scene handing out free hot chocolate and giving demos and discount coupons for the HTC One.

Thus far Mr. Ho's plan for marketing the HTC One won't focus on any one slogan, but rather to focus on general buzzwords -- "bold", "authentic", and "playful".  Mr. Ho says that "authentic" means that HTC is pushing its own ideas and not copy other phonemakers.  

The comment is perhaps a subtle insult to rival Samsung who lost a billion-dollar jury verdict after a U.S. jury found that it "stole" patented technology and designs from Apple.  HTC recently entered into a 10-year deal to license certain technology from Apple, ending its own patent battle with the U.S. firm.

Source: WSJ



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RE: It's not just HTC
By KoolAidMan1 on 3/25/2013 7:20:43 PM , Rating: 3
Same. Three friends got the GS3 last year and they grew to hate it due to how clunky the UI is, crashes, short battery life, and its terrible screen. Two have traded in for iPhone 5s and one is looking to get a Nexus 4.

Some people here are saying that the screen is fine but reviews on Anandtech, The Verge, and Ars Technica have all criticized it. Anyone with eyeballs and standards can tell, colors and text are so bad. Common praise in reviews for the HTC One or DNA are "fortunately it doesn't use a Pentile display like the GS3 does".

It really is one of the worst out there, especially for a phone with a premium price. Its a common criticism even on Android forums, so I don't know why some people here are in denial over it. You can get a Nexus 4 with a better screen for much less. HTC's flagships cost about as much but you're getting much better displays with those, same with the Lumia 920 that I have, blows the GS3's away.

Samsung is all marketing right now, they spend more than anyone on it. Companies like HTC with great new products are getting buried because of it. Apple might market the hell out of their products but at least they have the hardware and ecosystem to back it up.


RE: It's not just HTC
By Reclaimer77 on 3/25/2013 8:20:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You can get a Nexus 4 with a better screen for much less.


In exchange for no 4G LTE? Yeah...no, I don't think so. You pretty much get what you pay for on that deal.

Seriously you guys know I'm generally a supporter of Google and Android, but the decision to crank out Nexus phones without 4G LTE just doesn't fly with me, and I can't see how anyone else can support it either.

quote:
HTC's flagships cost about as much but you're getting much better displays with those, same with the Lumia 920 that I have, blows the GS3's away.


Yeah as long as you don't mind no removable storage options and a captive battery. And that Sense UI *shudders*.

quote:
Companies like HTC with great new products are getting buried because of it.


HTC is getting "buried" because they can't even deliver a new product on time. Seriously I'm so baffled that, with everything riding on it, they fell asleep at the wheel and completely ruined the HTC One launch. But I guess that was Samsung's fault too?

Also it didn't help that Apple slagged HTC with a crapton of phoney baloney lawsuits constantly. Their stock took a huge hit from that.

Look I want to see this HTC vs Samsung thing put to a stop, it goes against EVERYTHING we're supposed to be about. Apple is the enemy, not each other! Samsung is doing it right, they are moving headsets and grabbing market share. They've done more than anyone to make Android a household name. Don't hate on them because you think HTC should be in their place, that's ridiculous. Cheer for HTC to get better, sure, but don't hate on Samsung wtf?


RE: It's not just HTC
By EnzoFX on 3/26/2013 12:48:58 AM , Rating: 1
Funny how you didn't respond to his more substantive point about the screen itself. You must just have a low bar when it comes to color quality. If you're such a Samsung fanboy, how about telling them instead to calibrate their shit? Instead of defending it when it's sub par.


RE: It's not just HTC
By half_duplex on 3/26/2013 9:58:40 AM , Rating: 2
No, he's just probably just earning $0.12 for every pro Samsung post he can eek out.


RE: It's not just HTC
By KoolAidMan1 on 3/27/2013 7:29:09 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Look I want to see this HTC vs Samsung thing put to a stop, it goes against EVERYTHING we're supposed to be about. Apple is the enemy, not each other! Samsung is doing it right, they are moving headsets and grabbing market share. They've done more than anyone to make Android a household name. Don't hate on them because you think HTC should be in their place, that's ridiculous. Cheer for HTC to get better, sure, but don't hate on Samsung wtf?


Fanboy talk.

These aren't sports teams, this is technology and companies. I'm done with Android for now but I know it is getting better. Samsung isn't good but they keep getting bigger, that's my problem. I'll cheer for HTC all I want, all their new gear is great. It doesn't matter, I'm on a Lumia and iPad now anyway, looks like I'm the "enemy"


RE: It's not just HTC
By Cheesew1z69 on 3/25/2013 8:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Three friends got the GS3 last year and they grew to hate it due to how clunky the UI is, crashes, short battery life, and its terrible screen.
UI isn't clunky. Crashes? Sounds like a problem with their particular device. Short battery life? Again, probably their particulate device. I get full day battery as others here do.

We get you like Apple... it's obvious.


RE: It's not just HTC
By KoolAidMan1 on 3/25/2013 9:41:13 PM , Rating: 2
I criticize the GS3 so obviously I'm an Apple fanboy, obviously.

I own a Lumia 920 and I think HTC's newest phones are really good. It isn't that I think Apple is so great, even though I do have an iPad 4, its just that Samsung's flagship GS3 is really bad for the price.

Even the creator of CyanogenMod had bad things to say about TouchWiz right after just quitting Samsung: http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/25/4144226/steve-cy...

quote:
The Android developer believes that TouchWiz now "feels like it has been sent a few years back in time to the Froyo days."


I bet the maker of CyanogenMod is an Apple fanboy too. He criticized your precious, after all.


RE: It's not just HTC
By Cheesew1z69 on 3/25/2013 10:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
My precious? Get a grip. Lol

Good for him? Does he want a cookie? His opinion is just that, an opinion .


RE: It's not just HTC
By A11 on 3/26/2013 9:07:30 AM , Rating: 2
There's that cheeseman delusion again.

No amount of "lol lol I'm not a fanboy" will change the fact that you're the biggest zealot posting on this forum.


RE: It's not just HTC
By Cheesew1z69 on 3/26/2013 9:30:13 AM , Rating: 1
Who's fact? Yours? That doesn't make shit a fact...

And you can keep thinking I am "fanboy", that is not fact nor true.

I am the biggest zealot...ROFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

LOLOLLLLLLLLLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

ROFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL


RE: It's not just HTC
By A11 on 3/27/2013 5:00:22 PM , Rating: 2
Grow up.


"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller














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