If your company isn’t named Samsung or Apple, the smartphone market is a difficult place to be in the United States. The two companies combine to own more than half of the US smartphone market. More importantly, they pull in just about all of the industry’s profit. LG has done the best job in the recent past of competing with Apple and Samsung in the US, but no other company has managed to build market share that even reaches into the double digits. And the saddest story likely continues to be HTC, which briefly sat atop the US smartphone market at one point but has since struggled to stay afloat thanks to competition from Apple and Samsung at the top, and China-based smartphone makers at the bottom.
HTC has been struggling for years, but the company’s most embarrassing moment wouldn’t come until this week.
As 9to5Google noted on Thursday night, T-Mobile has stopped selling the HTC 10 flagship smartphone. The discontinuation of a smartphone generally isn’t very big news, since handsets are replaced all the time with newer and better models. The issue here, however, is that HTC’s latest and greatest handset went on sale just over two months ago.
In other words, it took AT&T longer to bail on Amazon’s Fire phone flop than it took for T-Mobile to discontinue the HTC 10.
HTC is in a tremendously difficult place right now. It makes fantastic smartphones and the HTC 10 can easily compete with any other flagship in the world. As we made clear in our HTC 10 review, it truly is a fantastic flagship smartphone. But in the end, there’s really no reason to buy an HTC 10 over a Galaxy S7 or an iPhone 6s, and that’s HTC’s biggest problem. The company has practically no marketing budget compared to the billions spent by Samsung and Apple each year, and its phones, though terrific, offer no meaningful benefit over similar offerings from market leaders.