The HTC One is a great smartphone, in fact many people think it's the best phone money can buy right now.
By rights, then, HTC should now be banishing memories of its recent downturn to the scrapheap of business decisions going wrong and looking forward to a far rosier future. Except just the opposite seems to be happening.
HTC has been stung by a succession of prominent staff members throwing in the towel and moving elsewhere, including VP of global communications Jason Gordon, chief product officer Kouji Kodera, and most recently, HTC Asia CEO Lennard Hoornik, whose departure was confirmed just today. And those are only the most significant staff losses.
Probably the most significant loss is Kodera – after all, when your chief product officer leaves right when you've just unveiled your most competitive new product in years, all is surely not well.
But as we know, the HTC One's arrival was a far-from-smooth affair thanks to major production issues which saw it completely miss its official on-sale date in most significant markets.
Then there's the HTC First – the so-called Facebook phone. To many it was an ill-conceived idea in the first place, and on first impressions it certainly didn't set the pulse racing or anything.
But its cause probably wasn't helped by Facebook reportedly going back on its promise to keep the First as the sole Facebook Home device for a period of exclusivity, rather than make the Home software available as a free download in the same week the First became available.
Of course, seen on their own the departures – even Kodera's – could simply be a case of unfortunate timing. But together they surely point to a company where all is far from well.
One ex-HTC employee, former product strategy manager Eric Lin who left in February, put it fairly bluntly on Twitter this week: “To all my friends still at HTC – just quit. Leave now. It's tough to do, but you'll be so much happier. I swear.”
Lin, for the record, is now product marketing manager at Skype. It would be interesting to see how different his advice would be if he was currently unemployed.
Anyway, it all adds up to HTC being a bit of a grim place to be right now. The next set of quarterly results may well improve things a little, but what about the quarter after that? After all, as its name makes clear, the One is just, well, one device.
Regardless of whether you like the HTC One, or the Sense UI, or even the company itself, the prospect of HTC fading away to insignificance is surely no good thing, especially for Android, a platform already dominated to a dangerous degree by Samsung.
In other words, let's hope the 2013 brain-drain hasn't left HTC completely devoid of innovative thinkers, and that the company can reproduce the good work so obvious in the HTC One elsewhere in its product lineup.
Via The Verge