More than 1,000 people turn out for HTC’s ‘biggest ever’ UK handset launch event
HTC says it expects sales of its new One M8 smartphone to become its biggest selling device of all time – hailing it as the best smartphone on the planet.
The Taiwanese manufacturer unveiled the device, the follow up to last year’s HTC One, at the London Olympia last week in front of more than 1,000 industry and media guests.
The event, labelled its biggest ever in the UK, was hosted by HTC co-founder and chair Cher Wang (pictured centre), who was making her first public appearance for HTC on British soil.
Wang, who was introduced on stage by EMEA president Philip Blair (pictured left), revealed the HTC One, launched exactly a year ago, had gone on to be HTC’s top selling handset – estimated at around seven million, five million of which were in the first month – and award-winning device in its 17-year history.
“The HTC One was the best selling phone in HTC’s history,” said Wang. “Almost an entire year later people are still calling it the best smartphone on the market and it was recently named the smartphone of the year by the GSMA at the Mobile World Congress.
“The customer response really inspired us and gave us the desire to make the best even better. With the HTC One M8, the best phone in the world has got even better.”
During a pre-briefing to the event, HTC’s vice president of the UK, Nordic and partner markets Peter Frølund told Mobile News he expects the One M8 to go on and surpass the success of its predecessor.
He claimed the manufacturer had learned lessons from last year’s bodged launch of the HTC One, which experienced a number of delays, blamed on component shortages.
HTC is understood to have seen a significant number of pre-orders cancelled as a result of the delays and Samsung announcing its Galaxy S4 smartphone during the hold-up – an error which it insists won’t be repeated.
“We believe the new HTC One M8 will outsell the HTC One,” said Frølund. “A year on, we are better equipped and lessons have been learned.
“The supply chain issues have all been fixed and we have a better and more focused marketing strategy. We are confident we are now on consumers’ radars this year whereas we may not have been last year.”
Thoughts from the analysts…
Julian Jest (pictured right)
Research analyst, Informa Telecoms
Although the One was showered with awards, the latest of which came at the 2014 Mobile World Congress, HTC was unable to avoid a poor financial performance in 2013. HTC is in danger of history repeating itself in 2014 with the One M8 and must avoid relying solely on the good looks of the new phone. It is better placed this time around to succeed and appears to have addressed the distribution issues that plagued the One.
However, the device’s good looks will be crucial in attracting the attention of consumers. While the design of the One M8 is similar to that of the One, the result, in my opinion, is more aesthetically pleasing. This has primarily been achieved by extending the aluminium back casing to wrap around the sides of the device, which has the added benefit of allowing for the inclusion of a microSD card slot and also making the device comfortable to hold. HTC needs to be proactive in engaging with mobile operators and handset retailers to ensure that sales assistants are adequately trained on how to demonstrate the technology.
Mobile expert at uSwitch.com
This is yet another solid offering from the Taiwanese mobile maker.
It has the competitive advantage of being in people’s hands ahead of other 2014 flagship phones, as it can be purchased from today with no delay between unveiling and going on sale.
HTC’s new offering is just as good-looking as the HTC One – which was a firm favourite amongst pundits and those in the know. In fact, it looks near-identical to its older sibling, still with an Apple-esque design, only now with a larger five-inch screen, and a more rounded rear.
Coupled with a twin-lens camera that captures pictures at great depth, it allows refocusing on different subjects way after the shot has been taken, making it ideal for photography enthusiasts.
Time will tell if this handset is a game-changer, and if it is enough to capture the attention of buyers that have long been loyal to Apple or Samsung. Possibly holding it back is the lack of 4K video recording.
Ben Wood (pictured right)
CCS Insight analyst
HTC learnt some tough lessons in 2013 but it does appear to have addressed these with the launch of this new device. The HTC One M8 is a make or break device, and despite the fact that last year’s HTC One was widely considered the best smartphone of 2013, the company failed to capitalise on the positive reviews and convert this to strong sales numbers.
A key goal for HTC will be to capture consumers upgrading from a Samsung Galaxy S3. Launching the HTC One M8 with immediate availability means it hits the shops ahead of new devices from arch rivals including Samsung and Sony. Luring only a small proportion of these customers would be a significant step in the right direction.
HTC is taking a big gamble sticking with its UltraPixel camera. It caused confusion last year as consumers made comparisons with other phone cameras that had much higher megapixel counts. It will be hoping the “Duo camera” is differentiated enough to help it stand out from the crowd.
Although HTC’s marketing budget pales in comparison to Samsung’s, its campaign is significantly more focused than last year’s launch. This will prove essential as HTC tries to highlight it’s key features. While HTC still has a mountain to climb as it tries to recover its position in the smartphone market, early indications are encouraging. However, there is no room for complacency.
IHS Mobile analyst
HTC is hoping to build on the well-received HTC One with its new flagship smartphone, which shares more than just a name with its predecessor. The new One M8 also shares the same industrial design as the previous model and many of the key features such as dual front facing speakers and infra-red blaster.
It is keen to point out that the old One was the most awarded smartphone last year. It takes particular pride in its design language; retaining this for its new flagship. This underscores HTC’s problems. Despite delivering arguably the best smartphone of last year, shipments still dropped 28 per cent to 22 million while the smartphone market overall boomed to over one billion devices. This is down from a peak of 45 million in 2011. The problems for HTC do not lie in its product. The main issues revolve around marketing, brand awareness and missing the boat on many new industry trends.
HTC concentrated on the high end of the market in 2012 but as it and every other manufacturer discovered this segment of the market is reaching saturation. The new HTC One is a great device but HTC’s future depends just as much on the mid-tier HTC Desire 816 announced at MWC.