HTC thinks wearable device, new flagship phone will lead to a better year

HTC One

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.

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