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Summary:

HTC didn’t have a great 2013, but the company hopes that a follow-up to the HTC One and a wearable device will reverse its trajectory this year.

HTC One
photo: HTC

Despite a well-reviewed flagship smartphone, a generally solid line of devices and Robert Downey Jr., 2013 was a rough year for HTC. The company’s shares fell 53 percent, its revenue dropped and it reported its first annual net loss. HTC execs appear optimistic, though, that a new flagship smartphone and wearable device, along with a renewed focus on marketing, can help turn things around this year, according to Bloomberg.

“2013 wasn’t a very good year for HTC,” Chialin Chang, HTC’s chief financial officer and head of global sales, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We have to admit we took our eyes somewhat off the ball in making sure we have a robust portfolio in the mid- and affordable end, which we’re fixing now.”

Unlike its competitor Samsung, HTC didn’t release a ton of devices last year, letting its Desire handsets do most of the mid-range lifting. And in addition to rounding out its device portfolio, the company is also betting big on its new high-end handset, a yet-to-be-announced follow up to last year’s HTC One.

Though the One was arguably one of the best Android phones released last year, its sales never really took off. The company attributes this to marketing. Company chairman Cher Wang said, “To tell the truth, we never think marketing is that important,” admitting, “this is really not very good.”

HTC signed Robert Downey Jr. for $12 million last year, but those ads failed to create a big spark. It isn’t clear if HTC will increase its marketing budget this year, but the company is looking for ways to market more effectively.

“It’s really not only the budget increase, it’s the way how you spend the money. Is it smart?” Wang said. “There’s a lot of ways to reach the audience right now.”

HTC also has high hopes for a wearable device, which it says will be available by the end of the year. Details are still virtually nonexistent, but Chang threw this nugget out there: “Many years ago we started looking at smartwatches and wearables, but we believe that we really have to solve the battery problems and the LCD light problems.”

I do hope that HTC is able to turn things around, because almost a year after its release I still think the HTC One remains one of the nicest phones on the market. I’m a little worried, though, because the company’s strategy this year doesn’t sound all that much different from how it did last year, aside from the addition of a wearable. Still, with the right device and the right ad campaign, here’s hoping it can find another hit.

  1. I was so excited to buy this phone to replace my wife’s iPhone 4 because she liked the sound and camera specs. Then she found out it did not have a SD slot. This led to her recalling how HTC abandoned the Thunderbolt (which was my first smartphone). Then she noted the undersized battery with no upgrade option. She just could not get past all that and decided to stay on her iPhone 4; and yes it’s dog slow with ios7. She is waiting for a worthy option. She has high hopes Galaxy S5 will have SD and removable battery but also materials worthy of its price tag.

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  2. Banking on a wearable at this early point in the game is quite risky. Wearables have a definitely place in the future market, but there needs to be extensive app development before we will see masses embracing the technology. Once apps are in place wearables could be the the key to bringing disruptive technologies together seamlessly — allowing technology to serve as the conduit for engagement based, tech fueled customer relationships (something T-Systems calls zero distance.

    Peter Fretty

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