It isn’t hard to feel for HTC. For two straight years, it’s released hugely acclaimed Android phones that have been praised in the tech media as some of the best in the world. And for two straight years it’s posted big year-over-year sales declines in May, just when sales from its newest flagship devices ought to be the strongest.
A lot has been made of HTC’s lackluster ad campaigns, which certainly have not helped matters at all. However, at some point you also have to concede that even the best marketing campaign in the world cannot stand up to the awesome corporate propaganda machine that Samsung has constructed unless you back it up with billions of dollars of your own.
Just look at the ridiculously expensive World Cup ad campaign in which Samsung has snagged just about every great footballer in the world to star in. Or look at how Samsung essentially took over the world’s busiest airport terminal in London’s Heathrow Airport. And let’s not forget Samsung’s brilliant high-stakes selfie stunts that the company scored at both the Oscars and the White House this year.
The point is that even if HTC or some other Android company created a series of perfect smartphone ads, they still wouldn’t be able to compete with to the insane barrage of noise that Samsung generates on a daily basis.
This is a problem for Google because other than Samsung, no one is making money selling Android phones. It’s also a problem for Google because Samsung has ambitions to create its own rival ecosystem to Android with its just-launched Tizen platform that Google will have no control over.
Google may be loathe to admit it, but right now it’s the only company out there with the marketing clout to go toe-to-toe with Samsung in terms of advertising at the high end of the smartphone market. Google tried to market its own phones a little bit with the Moto X last year but the company really held back from putting its full muscle behind the device.
This leaves Google with two choices if it doesn’t want Samsung to completely control the high-end Android market: It can either do what Microsoft is doing and create its own hardware or it can put big advertising money behind all the phones that will come out next year as part of its Android Silver program that’s pushing vendors to build phones with high-quality materials and stylish designs.
Either way, I’d like to see some Android vendor besides Samsung actually make money sometime soon, if for no other reason than I actually want to have choices for future Android phones that don’t look like oversized band-aids.