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back to article HTC profits lobbed off a cliff by rivals Samsung and Apple

Troubled Taiwanese mobe maker HTC suffered another body blow on Monday as it announced a whopping 79 per cent drop in Q3 net profits year on year. The once proud smartphone giant admitted its net income tumbled from NT$18.64bn (£397m) in the third quarter of 2011 to just NT$3.9bn (£82.9m) in the same period this year. Revenue …

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Anonymous Coward

They need to produce a better phone rather than the average ones they are at present.

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Anonymous Coward

I've been on about this for years. HTC released about 6 or so phones a year and all of them small variations of existing products.

It seems they have realised this and cut down the number of models, but the problem is they don't seem to have a brand that people really like.

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I like the brand, but not enough to pay the same for one of their phones as I would for a Samsung or an iPhone.

They did really well initially by offering good phones for excellent prices. They were briefly flavour of the month and suddenly able to charge premium prices. Now they're very definitely not this month's flavour but still want the premium price.

Maybe they should try knocking down their prices again ..

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I've got a One X and have had since launch pretty much. Although there isn't much in it, I'd say it's better than my friends' SIIIs. Specs wise it's pretty much the same (gives away a bit here, gains a bit there). It doesn't feel as cheap as the Samsung though. Overall it's a good flagship phone and an improvement on the constant stupid name assembly line they had going last year.

HTCs problem isn't with the quality of the phones, they just don't have the 'coolness' that Samsung have bought through massive advertising and in fines to Apple (how better to tell everyone about a phones features than to constantly rant about them in the news and courts :facepalm:).

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WTF?

Whilst Sense annoys the hell out of me (although the last time I had a HTC phone I simply rooted it and put CM9 on it), it's far more usable and nicer looking than Samsung's awful Touchwiz monstrosity, not to mention the incredibly plastic-y and questionable build quality of Samsung's rather uninsiring chassis compared to HTC's solid and rather nice anodised metal bodies. I'll admit that HTC's battery life is almost universally poor when compared with all other brands, but that's never stopped people before (iPhone 3G anyone?). This is before we even get to the utterly piss-poor slabs of plastic that supposedly pass for a smartphone in Samsung's low-end range, like the Samsung Galaxy Ace that my girlfriend's mother was sold by a Three rep ("it's really good", she apparently said). Fact was that my girlfriend's mother's 2-year old HTC Desire was higher spec'd and smoother in operation (the CPU is a 1/5 faster for a start, and the screen doesn't make everything look like it was produced on a Spectrum). Mind you, to be fair, the HTC Wildfire isn't up to much either.

Anyway, I digress, the reason HTC are going down the shitter is because the average punter just buys what they are told to/what everyone else has. You can argue all you want about specs and comparable merits of this handset over that handset, and maybe 5% of buyers look at this stuff, but in reality everyone just buys what they see.

Just compare advertising campaigns of Samsung and HTC: anecdotally, I was driving into London the other day along the Westway and almost every other billboard was a SGS3/Note 10.1 ad. Whenever I go to an airport or train stations they are plastered in Samsung colours and almost every magazine I open has a full page ad in them, not to mention the constant TV spots.

HTC had an obtuse TV advert where an unknown fashion designer jumps out of a plane and one front cover of the Metro for a day. It's all a bit of a viscous circle really, as HTC never really had the marketing clout to begin with, and they certainly haven't now. It's a shame because as you may have guessed, I really don't like Samsung mobes.

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Silver badge
Headmaster

You certainly don't want to get stuck in a viscous circle!

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Their phones are now good, but they have a damaged brand.

I had a Desire a couple of years ago. It was good in some ways, but the built quality was disappointing, the camera was bad, and the phone was constantly running out of core memory because it did not have enough. So I was disappointed, and went to a Galaxy S2. This had only slightly better built quality, has been replaced under warranty twice due to faulty charging, and has serious problems with the GPS being able to figure out where I am. ("Unable to determine location at present. Try again later"). I've since switched to an HTC One S (which I actually got pretty cheap - you can get it for no upfront cost on £15.50 a month if you shop around - less if you are willing to mess around with cashback deals) and it's easily nicer than the S2. It has an aluminium rather than plastic case and has much better built quality, the GPS works properly, the camera is decent etc.

However, a lot of people bought HTC phones a couple of years ago when they weren't quite ready for primetime, and they subsequently have a bit of a tarnished brand. This is a shame, because I think the present phones are nice.

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Meh

Phone manufacturers have one chance to impress

I've owned the Hero, Desire and Sensation.

It was the Sensation that turned me away, phone manufacturers only get one chance to impress and if you feel the phone is a dud or customer services are crap then you won't go back.

This happened to me with Ericsson, Sony and Nokia after the N96.

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Silver badge
Linux

Re: Phone manufacturers have one chance to impress

I owned a Desire, it was the updates (or lack thereof) that put me off HTC and onto Samsung.

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Re: Phone manufacturers have one chance to impress

Yeh I've got the HTC Sensation XE. The phone isn't too bad, minus a distinct lack of ram. 90% of the problems with their phones are the bad software updates that take a very slick fast phone and turn it into a bad nokia.

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Mushroom

Re: Phone manufacturers have one chance to impress

+1

I had a Hero and Sensation. The Hero was under powered and lacked updates - anyone remember the 9 months it took them to sort out the 2.1 update?

My Sensation suffered from turning itself off repeatedly and at random. It did get very occasional updates but the latest about 2 months ago managed to turn an otherwise slick smooth phone into a stuttering flickery mess. I can't see it getting Jelly Bean - and why should it, it was launched in July 2011 (barely a year and a bit) so HTC have already EOLd it.

You say manufacturers have one chance to impress. I am an idiot and gave HTC two chances. £900 later (both bought SIM free) and about three years of serious grief (plus crappy customer services that don't even remotely give a sh1t) I wont ever be giving them a third. My Sensation is a crock of wotsit.

Good riddance HTC.

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Re: Phone manufacturers have one chance to impress

Pretty much echoes my experience, I have also had two HTC phones bought SIM-free that had sod all support or updates.

I have been tempted by a couple of their handsets since then, but I'm not giving them any more money until I see some evidence of an improvement in after-sales support.

Are you listening HTC? People didn't care when you sold handsets to be re-branded by networks, but if you want to sell direct they expect some support. Who'd have thought?

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Holmes

Re: Phone manufacturers have one chance to impress

I owned a Samsung, it was the updates (or lack thereof) that put me off Samsung and onto HTC

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Flame

Re: Phone manufacturers have one chance to impress @truetalk

"I owned a Samsung, it was the updates (or lack thereof) that put me off Samsung and onto HTC"

Out of the frying pan and into the fire I think...

Flames - natch

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Also

They haven't had as much free advertising from lawsuits as Samsung. Just saying.

(Please don't interpret this as support for one party or the other. I have a Samsung and an Apple right in front of me now. Not an HTC though.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Also

"I have a Samsung and an Apple right in front of me now."

Why do I get the feeling you're having an apple for breakfast while reading El'Reg on your phone?

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Meh

Lesson learned perhaps too late

I like HTC and the Sense overlay they used. It made Android look far better in the early days and added functionality like combining contacts from various places as well as the first very usable copy and paste solution. Unfortunately they blew it last year with a ridiculous amount of releases that put off a lot of buyers. They even put me off with that and I was considering waiting for the Galaxy S3 but their presentation at MWC and essentially saying "we get it now" with far fewer releases this year outside a core set were enough to tempt me to get the One X. Am I happy with it? Overall yes. It's a solid phone, very well built and good spec that should see it last a while.

Unfortunately for HTC I was already a fan of their phones and only just stayed with them. Any other buyers bitten by the stupid amount handsets they released last year will likely not give them another chance and that's a shame. Not because of what they originally brought but because they're trying to stay relevant alongside Samsung who can throw so much money at their products.

Feature for feature it matches the Galaxy S3 with a 0.1" screen difference. They're terrible at marketing. The only advert I remember for the One series is of a skydiver taking a photo during freefall and nothing else anywhere yet Samsung adverts are all over. They'll have to take some pretty huge and potentially expensive risks to keep going. Their big push with the One series was ImageSense and it's a pretty big failure in my opinion.

The camera takes images with huge artifacts and noise even at modest lighting levels that appear not much different from my Desire HD's camera. It was shown when some sample images were uploaded prior to release but put down to compression and I didn't believe it then. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and it cost me. You can't release a product with advertising aimed at one standout feature that fails to live up to the claims. It's better than previous HTC efforts but considering how poor those were it wasn't difficult. I don't think it should be judged on one feature but they will be held accountable (in sales) for a poor feature.

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Re: Lesson learned perhaps too late

I took one look at the length of your post and said to myself: BORING.

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Re: Lesson learned perhaps too late

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lesson learned @Shagbag

I took one look at the content of your last two posts and said to myself: POMPOUS TWAT

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Bronze badge

Re: Lesson learned perhaps too late

This is my problem how? I'm not the one with the attention span of a hyperactive toddler :)

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What they need to do is stop treating its customers like beta testers. The One X has a major flaw battery life and due to the design of the handset people are stuck with it. A few months later they release the One X+ with a far better battery leaving the poor chumps who bought the One X with a handset that looks very pretty but if you actually do anything with it the battery wont even manage standby for the day. Unless you turn off 3G, GPS, Wifi, stop syncng mail/facebook etc and at that point people might as well have bought a non smartphone.

Here is a hint HTC test your phones to make sure your mobiles have a good enough battery to last a day with moderate useage and stick a microSD card slot in. If you arent sure about battery life then at least dont make sealed all in one units so people are stuck with a phone for 2 years that they cant rely on to be able to receive calls if they actually use the damn thing.

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Missing Functionality

I like HTC phones - my last 3 phones are all HTC devices, and I was recently looking at potential upgrades from my Desire (original version), but the lack of removable storage in the HTC One (whatever version) was definitely a show-stopper for me - I just don't want to use network bandwidth to shuffle potentially large files around from my phone to NAS, and I'm not giving my data to 'the cloud'.

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Unhappy

Shame to see this. My last two phones have been HTC and they have been great phones. I look at the One series and they look good too, but, for some reason I can't put my finger on, not as exciting as the Galaxy S3, the Lumias or the iPhone... I'm not sure if I'm alone in thinking this because I have stuck with the HTCs for a while and gotten a bit bored, or if everyone feels like this, in which case it would probably be more of a marketing issue than anything.

Either way, I hope they pull out of it because they were a great provider of cheap but high quality and full featured phones for those of us that wanted them.

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Rob
Bronze badge

It's now a software and UI battle

I think the smartphone industry has hit a plateau with how many hardware improvements they can fit in the phone. The last few successful models from Apple and Samsung have all been based on in-house software developments which is where HTC have been traditionally weak. I have had a few HTC phones and where as I do like the Sense UI, the rest of the package just isn't quite up to scratch. Samsung's other minor USP is the connectivity with some of their other goods (I like the fact that I can see who's calling on a small PiP box on my TV).

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Silver badge

Re: It's now a software and UI battle

Anecdotally, people I know who have criticised the HTC UIs say they would be more than happy if they'd just stuck with the vanilla Android, and with Android 4 being great, there's no need to mess with it unless you can add value.

I'm not sure it's all about software, the last few years have still seen significant useful improvements in hardware, indeed if anything I'd argue that's more so than the software changes (which are now down to minor tweaks). The last year has brought even bigger screens (which even small-size Apple have realised they have to play catch-up on, and it's the primary marketing feature of their latest phone), higher resolutions, better cameras, increasing CPU/GPU/RAM (well okay, Apple haven't improved much in their hardware, but I'm looking at the other companies where the real innovation is). I'm not sure what much has change in software in the last year that's comparable to any of that.

HTC's problem is probably being distinct - even if Samsung are only slightly better on average, it means people wanting Android will go with Samsung. There doesn't seem to be any distinction in other areas either, such as screen size.

That and marketing - either from HTC themselves, or free advertising from the media or other companies (Apple will always be able to sell a few, when every other advert advertises "Try this on your iphone" that most of us don't have.)

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Hurry up and release a decent replacement for the Desire HD

I've been generally very happy with the Desire HD over the past 18 months. It certainly seems more usable than my girlfriend's new Galaxy SIII (though maybe it's just a case of preferring what you are used to).

My contract's up in March, please HTC release a worthy replacement to the Desire HD by then and I'm yours!

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I still got my HTC Desire. Its running cyangenmod 7 and it's fast. I even had jelly bean on it and it was impressive (bugs put me back to cm7 for the time being) it been dropped, water splashed on it etc etc and it's going better than budget and even some mid range phones now. Looking at. The new ones with poor battery life, no SD slot and bugs they have seriously lost their way. They should be asking what the customers want and make a phone for them not what they think. I bet you Samsung Googled on their past models before making a new phone just to get a breakdown what they need next.

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Downhill

I hada TTyN II which was great, a touch HD which wasn't and currently a Flyer which they don't seem to want to support. I don't know what they're doing but I don't think I 'll be buying another.

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Pint

Re: Downhill

... oh yes, we love our Flyer too! Suddenly that form-factor is flavour of the month and it seems to have been left behind.

Clearly an inspiration for the Galaxy Note range..!

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Pint

It's a tricky decision to make..!

Having been early Panasonic users, we went Sony-Ericsson for 3G/video calling with the V800 many years ago. then, consolidating palm pilot & telephone, we went HTC Wizard, (O2 XDA S2) which was great. HTC did a lot of good work for SmartPhones in those early days.

Also, our HTC Desires have seen good service, both with Sense - which /was/ the face of Android at one time - and with CM 7. However, my partner now has the Xperia S, which is great and I'm waiting for my Xperia T, which is also great.

I like that fact that i can plug them directly into the HD tv for media playback and that sony have brought back the Walkman function!

Other posters are correct about the brand visibility of Samsung - I can't remember the time i saw a decent spread for HTC product. Both Samsun and Sony are helped by the fact that they are cross-platform manufacturers and designers. i've noticed a lot more Sony advertising too, but that may be because I'm liking the product range. I'm pleased that the Xperia T has an expansion slot for more memory. The Xperia S seems to be lasting the day with mixed browsing/media use.

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Silver badge

Perhaps only Apple can get away with non-replaceable batteries and non-upgradable storage.

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I wanted a HTC One-X but went for an S3...

I much prefer the solid feel of the HTC phones, and Sense UI over Touchwiz, so why did I go for an S3 over a One-X?

The main reason was a hardware fault on the One-X that cause problems with wifi and bluetooth. HTC rolled out a fix to its repair centres and production lines fairly quickly, but the postings on various android forums showed it was a lottery if I'd get a fixed phone out-of-the-box. I didn't want one that would eventually need sending back for repair. The various repair horror stories didn't help.

The non-removable, lower capacity battery, and lack of a micro SD slot were the final deciding factors, so I'm now the owner of an S3, and very happy with it, especially the battery life, which is excellent for such a powerful phone.

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Re: I wanted a HTC One-X but went for an S3...

I fully agree, I'm just about to upgrade and was looking into replacement phones, I really wanted a One X over the S3 but the battery life and no micro SD were a bit of a downer. Then I hear of the One X+, better battery and more storage, wahoo however I'm on TMobile so can get 4G with EE in the next few months, that's OK I'll get the LTE version, oh there isn't one, there is an S3 LTE though... Ah but HTC do do an LTE phone (HTC One XL) but but it's got a low res screen so is really even worse than original One X! What is that about?!!

HTC please just at least match the specs of your immediate competition. Also how about in your next advert you actually show off the product that your engineers have created and show what it can do, Showing pretentious actors jumping out of a plane won't convince me to drop £500 on one of your phones.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wanted a HTC One-X but went for an S3...

"Showing pretentious actors jumping out of a plane won't convince me to drop £500 on one of your phones."

What about showing a screaming marketing dude being thrown out of a plane?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wanted a HTC One-X but went for an S3...

"Showing pretentious actors jumping out of a plane won't convince me to drop £500 on one of your phones."

> What about showing a screaming marketing dude being thrown out of a plane?

Not if he has a parachute!

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Silver badge

Simples

I would like an HTC with Android 4, an AMOLED screen and removable SD. Oh, they don't do one. It'll have to be a Samsung then.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simples

How about an LG.... they probably do all those bits ....

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Mushroom

Never HTC again

I have two Nexus One's. On one the power button does not work any more, on the other one it hardly works. Both have issues with spontaneous reboots. HTC customer service basically told me go f* myself.

Never again will I buy something from HTC. I think there is a reason Google went to other manufacturers for their subsequent Nexus models. Right now I have the Galaxy Nexus, which is great.

The simple reason Samsung is doing well and HTC is doing bad is that Samsung builds great phones, whereas HTC does not.

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Shakeout

The Giants Nokia, RIM. Now HTC. And where are the traditional second-rankers? Anyone might think there was an industry shakeout happening! Though perhaps it's also the rise of chinese competitors to the point where the 'merkins pulled the strings of naked protectionism.

Question: why do fashions have to throw out the baby with the bathwater? Why does noone produce a phone with keyboard quite as good as the Nokia E71 any more, unless you count the whopping £500 two-hander blackberry bolds?

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Silver badge

Re: Shakeout

Although note Nokia are still number two in the market - true, they fell from number one, overtaken by Samsung, but it's not so much a shakeout for them yet.

The shakeout is more companies like Motorola, LG - and RIM as you say.

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Anonymous Coward

several people I know have HTC Wildfires and would not touch HTC with someone elses bargepole. Perhaps if they stopped producing utterly crap phones that people loathe for 24 months, it might help them?

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Chz

The HTC Wildfire is no worse (indeed, in some ways better) than the Samsung Galaxy Ace it competes with. Cheap phones are shit shocker.

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Only Apple

Can get away with a non-removable battery and lack of external storage. HTC thought they could get away with it and I believe it has cost them dearly on their flagship products.

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Anonymous Coward

Copying Apple did it for me....

I have had 4 or so HTCs (Win Mo & Android) and would have quite happily upgraded my Desire S to a One X ... except that HTC went down the Apple route of dropping the Micro SD card and removable battery.....

Loving my S3 as a result.......

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Silver badge

It is an interesting issue - the great thing about Android is that it's provided a great standard open OS for any manufacturer, and has done more to popularise smartphones and bring them to the masses than any other platform. Yet far from encouraging a greater spread of choice (as with say, the large number of PC manufacturers), we've ended up with Samsung taking up all the profits (and share - which is what is of more relevance to consumers). First Motorola fell, now it seems HTC are going that way sadly. People criticise Nokia for switching to WP, but for those suggesting they should have gone to Android, it's not clear that would have worked out so well. (Also remember that article saying how Nokia make more profit from their low end smartphones, than Sony-Ericson do from high end Android smartphones?)

"failed to create the same buzz around its high-end products"

It's a shame that all that matters these days is the hype and free advertising given by the media. How about giving a more objective view on the marketplace...?

Though I suppose we should be thankful that at least Samsung/Android now gets some hype, rather than Apple all the time (who seem to get all the hype, despite far fewer sales).

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Bronze badge

Samsung and Apple sheep buyer syndrome.

Seems to me that everyone is emotionally very weak and so just thus buys what others buy.

Lazyness obviously comes into it too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Samsung and Apple sheep buyer syndrome.

And absolutely gigantic advertising and marketing budgets ;)

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My ZTE blade/orange sanfran with CM7 is still going strong despite several drops and once being kicked down the road but with it costing less than £100 new if it breaks completely then ill get whatever is the latest budget smartphone, from my friends having either iphones or S2 not really seen anything they can do that makes me want to shell out 3 x more than it cost for my Sanfran.

Maybe HTC should start to concentrate on the low end rather than compete with Samsung and Apple at the high end

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