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Friday, 10 February 2017

HTC 11: TOP SPOT OR BIG FLOP?

It’s no secret that HTC has had more than its far share of problems in recent months. There was a time when it was a major part of the smartosphere, but that era is now gone forever. Today, they are struggling to attract buyers for their devices. Will their new flagship, the HTC 11, be able to turn things around? It’s possible, but not very likely.

The HTC 11 will be a decent device…

Should we maintain a high price and hope to sell enough devices to reach our goals? Or should we lower prices and then rely on our ability to attract more buyers? When your finances are looking more than a little shakey, these are the sort of questions you'll be asking yourself. Additionally, a few of the rats have already fled the sinking ship: one of the company's Vice Presidents has moved to Google.
All these decisions are a gamble on the future, but the plain fact of life in the smartphone market is relatively straightforward: your device will not sell if it isn't at least on the same level as its competitors.
The most daring try to be original, such as what we have seen with LG when they released the G5. Unfortunately, this strategy doesn’t always pay off. Will HTC try to be original with the HTC 11? It’s not very likely as this could ultimately prove to be an expensive risk, which is something the company is not in a position to accommodate. It’s possible that HTC will change their design and perhaps opt for curved edges like Samsung who, according to the most recent rumors, could feature this technology on their two new flagship models.

The screen will obviously be QHD definition because HTC won’t want to let down the VR fans out there. It’s true that the VR market still isn’t fully developed, but if the manufacturer doesn’t show an interest now users could turn to another brand that is already working on this technology. As we’re talking about new features, it's timely that we also mention the artificial interface concept, which has become very trendy since Google introduced their Assistant. HTC has developed its own digital assistant, the Sense Companion, which is available on the HTC U Play and the HTC U Ultra, but we haven’t been able to look into it yet in any detail.
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Perhaps you think that a devices true strength lies in its performance. The main problem here is that, if the HTC 11 is released at MWC (and everyone is thinking it will be), it will not be using Snapdragon 835 as Samsung has exclusive rights to this processor. In other words, HTC would need to use a 821 processor (or come to an agreement with Huawei or Samsung?). Even if it is optimized in the best way possible, and even by cheating the benchmarks like other manufacturers have done, it will be difficult to achieve the performance of the Snapdragon 835.

The camera and the battery life will also need to be good quality, just like every other flagship device. In short, HTC will need to present a good smartphone that doesn’t stray too far from its already well-trodden path (it can’t afford to fail).

...but this isn’t enough for it to sell

If you regularly read websites that specialize in smartphones, you'll probably have already seen that each manufacturer has its own community of fans. How many of us don’t even bother to think when we are upgrading our smartphones and will automatically choose a device from our favorite brand? For others, the choice is more complicated as it’s not about the manufacturer, it’s about the interface: Stock Android (Nexus, Pixel, Moto, etc.), EMUI (Huawei, Honor), etc. Of course, there are also those people who are only interested in certain characteristics or are looking for a device that is good value for money.

The problem with HTC is that its community of fans isn’t the same as what it once was. Fortunately, some users have remained loyal and will buy this new device (and will probably be very happy with it) but they now represent a minority and the HTC brand image isn't in a position to make the future HTC 11 people’s number one choice for a smartphone.
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Of course, it has the Sense Companion and this in itself is an advantage. In theory, yes, but in practice this remains to be seen. The digital assistants look good on paper, but in practice they aren’t always that useful. Such a strategy makes sense for manufacturers like Google and Samsung, but not really for HTC as the costs for maintaining such a feature could end up costing them a fortune. This in itself is an interesting development because if HTC does follow through with this, the company could risk its future or at least needs to be certain it can finance the overall strategy - as well as the improvements and updates it will require. 
In any case, the software interface would struggle to prove itself and I doubt that it will be enough of a selling point for HTC, especially as requiring users to store all their private information to their smartphone and allow it to be exploited to “provide a service” could scare off those who are concerned about data protection.
The last and by far most obvious element is the price, which is usually placed very high. It’s normal to pay a high price for a top of the range device, I know that. That said, it brings us back to the same point: if people are going to spend a huge sum of money on a new smartphone, most users would prefer to opt for the most popular brand (as most people associate a high price with good quality). Even with a top of the range device in 2017 (and that’s still something we'll need more confirmation on), the company will not (or will no longer) have enough charisma to attract customers. The HTC 10 was a great phone but that wasn’t enough. It will probably be the same for the HTC 11.

What do you think HTC should do to reach the top sales spot with the HTC 11? Do you think its too late to save the HTC brand? Let us know in the comments below. 

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