With 5 million sales already, the HTC One is on its way to help HTC reverse its downward sales and profits trend. Counting on a single product to effectively save a company is a risky strategy though. Perhaps that’s why HTC is now planning a “Google Edition” version of the HTC One even though it previously denied any such Android device.
Paul O’Brien of MoDaCo reported the change in strategy on Friday, with multiple sources saying the phone would be announced next week. Like Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 “Google Edition”, announced last week at Google I/O, the HTC One would lose HTC’s Sense software and run a plain, or stock, version of Android. This would be akin to the Nexus 4 phone, which Google sells directly through Google Play.
According to O’Brian:
“It seems as though the very existence of the Google Edition device has created considerable internal turmoil at HTC. There is a deep seated belief within HTC that Sense provides the best possible Android experience and there’s no reason to offer anything different – unifying behind a consistent message. HTC has always been a company however that is driven from the top and it appears as though the new device has been sanctioned by none other than Peter Chou himself, no doubt influenced by arch-rival Samsung’s recent announcement.”
It’s possible that turmoil is related to the key executives and resources that have left HTC as recently as this week, but that could be coincidental. There’s little, however, that HTC knows it needs to make major changes in product and vision if it wants to stay relevant in the Android marketplace.
A “Google Edition” HTC One could actually bring multiple benefits to help the situation. The current HTC One on sale now is an outstanding piece of hardware; possibly the best designed and built Android phone on the market today. But some have shied away from buying the phone because of HTC’s Sense user interface. A “pure” HTC One with nothing but Android on it could generate additional sales.
Another benefit could be found in marketing; an area where HTC greatly lags its peers. A “Google Edition” phone would likely be sold directly by Google in the Play store, meaning Google can help market the phone. It would also remove carriers from the equation and give HTC a little more control over the phone, pricing and software updates.