HTC has suddenly become very easy to root for

HTC Underdog Status

You really can’t blame HTC (2498) for being frustrated right now. The company clearly put a lot of thought and effort into crafting its HTC One flagship smartphone, which not only features an eye-catching 4.7-inch full-HD display with a pixel density of 468 ppi, but also comes with a high-quality aluminum unibody design and a host of new features intended to improve its oft-criticized Sense Android skin. But despite all of this hard work, the company has once again been pushed aside by yet another plastic Samsung (005930) slab that will likely outsell the HTC One by tens of millions of units.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Galaxy S 4 looks like a terrific device. But I also understand why HTC has been lashing out at Samsung lately in a desperate attempt to draw attention to itself — the company is very proud of the work it has done over the past several months and it doesn’t want to accept that Samsung can make the entire world forget about it over the span of a few cheesy tap-dancing routines.

And Samsung isn’t HTC’s only problem. We’re now seeing that Sony (SNE) seems to have finally gotten its act together in the smartphone realm and is aggressively going after the portion of the Android market that hasn’t been gobbled up by Samsung. Combine Sony’s recent momentum with LG’s (066570) moderate success with the Optimus G and Motorola’s upcoming “X Phone” that’s being developed jointly with Google (GOOG), and it’s very difficult to see how HTC can carve out a niche for itself in what is already a brutally competitive market.

It’s one thing to fail after making significant strategic mistakes or after putting out second-rate products. It’s quite another to put everything you have into producing a top-notch product only to discover that it might still not be good enough. But that seems to be the situation HTC finds itself in, which makes the company easy to root for right now. That said, I’m pretty sure HTC would trade in its “lovable underdog” status for a smash hit with the HTC One any day of the week, but that unfortunately doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

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