Why are HTC & Sony Losing the Smartphone Game?
HTC just announced their newest flagship phone, the HTC 10 – and while we haven’t really reviewed it, nor do I really know if it’s a good smartphone or not – I have a bad feeling that the company won’t get the sales that they want to get.
I hope I’m wrong, and for sure, they could still win this by having a great smartphone with a little bit of marketing – but we all know that HTC doesn’t have the same amount of marketing muscle as Samsung or Apple. Also, their revenues have been going down – by a huge 35% last year, indicating that the company is indeed doing something wrong – or other companies are just doing it really right.
The problem is – HTC is barely doing anything with their flagship phone, the 10. It has all the high-end specs, but so does every other flagship phone. It has the premium design, but so does Samsung, LG, Huawei and even Xiaomi now. It could potentially have great software, a good set of cameras and long battery life – but then again, mostly every other phone has those too.
HTC also gave up their front-facing speakers, something that Apple, LG and Samsung do not have with their flagship phones, and instead, took the competition’s existing idea of a physical button housing a fingerprint scanner up front. It’s not modular, it’s not waterproof; basically, it has nothing to differentiate it from the rest – so why would you buy a $699 phone (Php30k+) from HTC, when you can get a Samsung Galaxy S7, an LG G5, or an iPhone?
It’s also the same deal with Sony, which is also losing money in its mobile division. Sony has been retaining a lot of things from the original Xperia Z, and ever since the recent years, Sony’s smartphones have been just the company’s smartphone with all the best specs and design – but it has nothing new and of relevance to offer most people. And aside from PlayStation integration and other Sony services, no – 4K in the Xperia Z5 Premium isn’t what I would consider differentiating.
Maybe Sony wants to change that, which is why they dropped the “Z” branding in favor for their “X” (yet with still confusing labels like ‘Performance’), but that will barely do anything. The stigma is with the entire Xperia line-up – not the letter Z. Also, what does this brand even mean to most people? The first Galaxy S brought in an Android revolution, the G series marked LG’s focus into the smartphone game, and even HTC’s recent branding is well associated with “premium” — what is an “Xperia”? Their latest flagship phone, the Xperia X Performance – is just a powerful & premium smartphone with waterproofing and, assuming, great hardware like camera and battery. It doesn’t push forward anything at all.
I like these companies, and I would like to commend HTC’s push into VR with their Vive, and I’m also a big fan of Sony’s other products like their cameras and their PlayStations – but right now, never would I consider getting a mobile phone from them, and the only scenario I see that happening is if they release a Nexus.
The iPhone and the Galaxy are competing in the premium all-around smartphone market, so LG is taking the riskier route with dual cameras and modularity; mostly the rest are competing in a price war. If Sony and HTC would like to get my attention, they should release something different – even if that’s really hard to do.