HTC’s ‘comeback’ year not going to plan

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The HTC One was popular on release, but a raft of senior departures and a former executive advising people to leave has cast yet another dark cloud over the firm, as Paul Withers explains

If any manufacturer needs a bit of luck, it’s HTC. It has had a torrid time of late. And just when things seem to be looking up, something immediately knocks it down again.

Take the HTC One. The build up to the launch was vast – ads all over the TV, press releases galore and a big launch event in central London – only to then be delayed, causing yet more miserable headlines. On release it received universal praise, being dubbed by some as the ‘best phone in the world’.

But then the black cloud and negative headlines returned, with the company’s poor Q1 financials seeing profits plunging by 91 per cent.

The firm’s CEO Peter Chou said at the time: “The worst for HTC has probably passed. 2013 will not be that bad.” He clearly had no idea what was coming.

It started well, HTC securing a partnership with Facebook for the HTC First ‘Facebook phone’ – something of a real coup you would suspect, right? Wrong.

The launch has been plagued by criticism and by association HTC has unfairly been caught in the middle. You need only google the words ‘HTC’ and ‘Facebook’ to understand.

And then a former HTC employee took to Twitter to encourage others to leave the firm. The tweet from former product strategy manager Eric Lin, who left the manufacturer in February to join Skype, read: “To all my friends still @HTC – just quit. Leave now. It’s tough to do, but you’ll be so much happier. I swear.” Ouch.

Now you can view this in one of two ways: either Lin was taking nothing more than a petulant swipe at his former employer or he was highlighting to the world just how poor a company HTC is to work for now.

We’re none the wiser. But given the number of departures from the firm of late – chief product officer Kouji Kodera, global retail marketing manager Rebecca Rowland, UK and Ireland regional director Phil Roberson, worldwide director of digital marketing John Starkweather and VP of global communications Jason Gordon – you can’t help but wonder if there is some internal unrest within the company.

We’ll keep an eye on Twitter for any further developments.

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