Does HTC even count as a major player any more?

Does HTC even count as a major player any more?

The launch event for the HTC One/M7 is just a couple of hours away – as we've already mentioned today.

And while HTC will obviously frame the event as a big deal for the company, here's a fact that indicates just how crucial it really is: HTC is now not even in the top 10 mobile phone makers globally.

DigiTimes has tallied up the numbers (supplied by Gartner) both for Q4 2012 and the year in total, and in both cases it paints a fairly grim picture for HTC.

Samsung is steaming ahead overall, having overtaken Nokia mid-year and raked in total sales of 384m phones during 2012, nearly 70m more than its 2011 figure and more than 50m clear of Nokia's final tally.

But half of that gap to Nokia was built in Q4 alone, a clear indication of which way the wind has been blowing for the world's two leading phone manufacturers.

Apple continues to grow handsomely too, with its 130m iPhone sales for the year equating to a 50% jump in market share from 5% in 2011 to 7.5% in 2012. And to once again state the obvious, that's pretty good going since we're talking about a single product, and shows the success of recent expansion particularly into China.

For HTC, though, you need to long quite a long way down the list. HTC sold just 32m phones in 2012, down from 43m the year before and below even the likes of Motorola and RIM in the annual list, both of whom barely registered in terms of new products through the year.

The last three months of the year, meanwhile, saw HTC eclipsed by the likes of Sony – another company that spent much of 2012 in transition following the fundamental shift from the Sony Ericsson years – and outsold more than two to one by LG and emerging global forces ZTE and Huawei.

So where does HTC go in 2013? Hard to say, and the continuing talk of shifting focus, new marketing strategies and inward soul-searching suggests HTC is still looking for the answers itself.

Part of the problem has been that despite all the talk, there has been very little real change in terms of actual end product.

And from a marketing point of view, following a string of similarly competent but unremarkable phones all named a variation of “HTC One” by launching a phone actually called just the “HTC One” isn't a good start.

It looks like a strong product, to be fair, but will we still be talking about it after MWC next week, and after the Samsung Galaxy S IV emerges, probably next month? I wonder.

The problem is that HTC has pretty much missed all the big boats that are expected to dominate the smartphone industry for the foreseeable future. It introduced the world to Android, then saw Samsung, LG and Asus wrestle Google's attention away for themselves, with Sony now also having more momentum and Motorola surely set to rise from its recent slumber any time soon, underwritten by Google itself.

At the low end it's seen Huawei and ZTE make major moves to drive Android adoption and establish their name, with plenty of others ready to follow in their footsteps. HTC recently spoke of embracing the low end itself, but again probably too late to turn the current tide.

HTC continues to talk a good game, as we'll no doubt see shortly from its latest big launch event, but now more than ever it's going to need far more than just talk, or the HTC One, to turn things around.

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14 comments

Pondlife  Feb. 19, 2013 at 13:12

If we just look at smartphones though it's ahead of Nokia, no?

Anyway yep they've taken some bad decisions and gone downhill, but the new range hold potential at least. If they put out the 1080p 4.7" phone and get it on sale promptly it could get some business surely?

judgey  Feb. 19, 2013 at 13:21

If it has no sd card slot ill stick to the sony

loofer  Feb. 19, 2013 at 13:24

If we just look at smartphones though it's ahead of Nokia, no?

Anyway yep they've taken some bad decisions and gone downhill, but the new range hold potential at least. If they put out the 1080p 4.7" phone and get it on sale promptly it could get some business surely?

With a release date being touted as 8th March and rumours of S4 possibly being unveiled on 14th March.... hmmmm

I'm a HTC fan and I certainly didn't like the cheap feel of the S3 but as much as I'm tempted to buy the HTC One shortly after release, it just makes sense to hold out a bit longer .

HTC should've have tried to get this phone ready before Xmas 2012... instead of the One X+

Stelph  Feb. 19, 2013 at 13:53

I dont know if its just me, but HTC just seems to suffer from an issue of "dithering" on different ideas/plans without completely committing in one direction or another.

Case in point the rebrandings of smartphones, as mentioned before the HTC Desire was a great phone and they should really have carried on with the branding of this in a similar fashion to the iPhone or Galaxy (i.e. Desire 2, Desire 3 etc) but they kept messing with the Brandings of the phone so people didnt really know what they were getting

Also they have great ideas, like the HTC DLNA link which is essentially an apple TV for the HTC, but they launched it and then never really carried on in that direction and never really marketed it which, considering how much interest there is in the new apple TV and the android gaming consoles was a little supid

Pondlife  Feb. 19, 2013 at 14:05

Yeah they did keep rather quiet about that dlna link.

Not just the branding they messed with key elements that people wanted the Desire for anyway.

And the having phones but not releasing them for that matter, I know there's been interest in the butterfly over here.

Still after the one thing they didn't dither over and went all out with was Beats I don't think you can say they lack vision ;)

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 19, 2013 at 14:45

I dont know if its just me, but HTC just seems to suffer from an issue of "dithering" on different ideas/plans without completely committing in one direction or another.

Case in point the rebrandings of smartphones, as mentioned before the HTC Desire was a great phone and they should really have carried on with the branding of this in a similar fashion to the iPhone or Galaxy (i.e. Desire 2, Desire 3 etc) but they kept messing with the Brandings of the phone so people didnt really know what they were getting

Also they have great ideas, like the HTC DLNA link which is essentially an apple TV for the HTC, but they launched it and then never really carried on in that direction and never really marketed it which, considering how much interest there is in the new apple TV and the android gaming consoles was a little supid


Agree. In many ways I really liked the OneS/X... but battery nowhere near suitable for the few new things they offered. Camera module not up to par with the great camera software.
Sense toned down but still undecided between bloat and usefulness.
Unlockable bootloader, but unlockable in the worst possible way...
All in all as if one hand doesn't know what the others are up to...

Daleos  Feb. 19, 2013 at 20:49

If it has no sd card slot ill stick to the sony

Who needs a SD card slot if it has 64 GB of memory? I'm more concerned about the battery life / lack of removable battery.

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 19, 2013 at 21:11

If it has no sd card slot ill stick to the sony

Who needs a SD card slot if it has 64 GB of memory? I'm more concerned about the battery life / lack of removable battery.


Generally with you on that one, but: I recently read somewhere that most (?) Android users don't keep their phones for more than 6-12 months... so the battery is the next owner's problem. Of course, being able to insert a fresh battery on the go is something a few people do. Well, "few" is key.
But, yes, I prefer swappable battery, too. Bad iPhone. Bad trend.

Pondlife  Feb. 19, 2013 at 21:15

People who want more than 64gb?
Those who'd prefer to keep media on a card so they can change it easier?
Those who want to print their photos taken with the magical camera in photo shop and keep using phone at same time?
Those who like to flash roms

Daleos  Feb. 20, 2013 at 01:12

Of course, being able to insert a fresh battery on the go is something a few people do. Well, "few" is key.

I need to do this at least weekly, sometimes two or three times. All it takes is a late train or someone turning up late to the pub and 1 battery just isn't enough for me. I wouldn't even call myself a heavy user. Aside from 10 mins of calls a day, a handful of SMS's, a quick google for something or check the map, all I really do regularly is read ebooks on it.

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 20, 2013 at 12:46

Of course, being able to insert a fresh battery on the go is something a few people do. Well, "few" is key.

I need to do this at least weekly, sometimes two or three times. All it takes is a late train or someone turning up late to the pub and 1 battery just isn't enough for me. I wouldn't even call myself a heavy user. Aside from 10 mins of calls a day, a handful of SMS's, a quick google for something or check the map, all I really do regularly is read ebooks on it.


That sucks. In that case I guess all you can do is buy the right device - either, one that'll last a day + or one with a changeable battery. I wasn't defending today's smartphones, by the way.
If a phone doesn't get me through a full day, I ditch it. I'm actually pretty p*ssed off with consumers who let this slide. The first smartphone that didn't make it at least through one full working day doing the things smartphones are advertised for...well, it should've been universally dumped on. I'm massively annoyed with help pages that describe how to get "the best" out of phones' batteries - meaning "the worst" by turning off all those hyped features. It's stupid. Same goes for ridiculous built-in storage supplemented by some free cloud storage... Ahem, hello, are we all stupid? Battery sucks, so we give you no SD support as a bonus. You can use the cloud, and more data traffic for even shittier battery life. But look: shiny screen and super fast processor. Bahaaahaaa baaahaaa....

Those companies are all just in it for the profit. They are not our social network enablers. They are not tech welfare. Unless we return sub-standard performers, things won't get better.
Ultimately it's 'our' fault. "It's not what you're selling, it's what you're buying. " FUGAZI sang that and they were right.

Stelph  Feb. 20, 2013 at 12:50

Jan you've inspired me, I'm ordering a Nokia n-range phone today!

.....Maybe not :p but I do agree, I long for the day when mobile phone companies take "longest battery" as the next battleground, we've had "race to the thinnest" and I think we are getting to the end of the "largest screen" battles, surely battery life is next?

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 20, 2013 at 13:04

Nokia N-Range was never that great, and they b*ggered the E-series.
I guess there's the Note, the iPhone 5 and Moto's big-juicered RAZRs? Even the Bold 9900 struggled after a day at work...
I was genuinely surprised by the iPhone 5 - the one I used for 2 weeks just wasn't impressed by my heavy usage - would always go from morning to next day lunch...

Pondlife  Feb. 20, 2013 at 14:26

I need to do this at least weekly, sometimes two or three times. All it takes is a late train or someone turning up late to the pub and 1 battery just isn't enough for me. I wouldn't even call myself a heavy user. Aside from 10 mins of calls a day, a handful of SMS's, a quick google for something or check the map, all I really do regularly is read ebooks on it.

I would expect any phone to cope with the usage initially described but screen on activities do use more battery so ereading will use quite a lot if the regularly amounts to several hours a day.

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