The big problems that HTC faces this year are the same problems that it faced last year when it launched the HTC One: It makes incredible devices that it can’t seem to get people to care about. It wants to make high-end products on par with the iPhone but it lacks both the fanatically loyal customer base and the platform ecosystem that Apple counts as two of its greatest assets. And HTC doesn’t have the massive manufacturing capabilities to be like Samsung, whose strategy for selling smartphones is much like a certain classic Monty Python sketch: “Spam, spam, spam, spam! Spam, spam, spam, spam!”
So what can HTC do while it’s seemingly stuck between a rock and hard place? The Verge has scored a very interesting interview with HTC vice president of design Scott Croyle and HTC user experience boss Drew Bamford, who drop some hints about how HTC plans to market its just-released HTC One (M8) flagship smartphone and how it will try to carve out a niche as the smartphone for more discerning Android users.
“We’re not that interested in selling the most phones,” Bamford tells The Verge. “We’re interested in selling the best phones. And I think you can be profitable with both of those strategies… We want to do disruptive design that’s very profitable in a particular niche, and that niche is people who want something different, who are focused on design and quality.”
This is particularly interesting because it gets to the heart of a very interesting question: How important is design quality to the average smartphone buyer? Both HTC and Nokia have made some of the best smartphone designs we’ve seen over the last two years and yet both of them have been getting absolutely clobbered by Samsung, which seems content to churn out plastic devices with little regard for what gadget enthusiasts writing at tech blogs say about them.
Are there enough smartphone buyers out there who want the premium build of the iPhone but who would prefer to use Google’s open-source mobile platform instead of iOS? It looks like we’re about to find out.