Peter Chou, HTC’s CEO was widely reported to have offered to quit his post in the struggling smartphone maker if the company’s latest flagship smartphone, the One, failed in the market. But now Chou is clarifying that it was just a rumor and he never said anything to that effect. “I know you guys want to ask, will I quit. There are a lot of rumors that say I would quit, but I never said that. I’m not going to find another job,” Chou said in an interview with the WSJ. Also Read - HTC Former CEO Peter Chou joins visual effects company Digital Domain as executive director
Once one of the biggest smartphone partner for both Google and Microsoft, HTC has veered off its course in the past couple of years. Poor product portfolio decisions, weak marketing and product delays have meant that the Taiwanese smartphone maker has seen its fortunes dwindle in the recent past with earnings decreasing by 98 percent in the past one year alone. During the same time, Samsung has bulldozed its way and become the largest smartphone vendor in the world with its mammoth advertising budgets and the biggest product portfolio of all smartphone makers. Samsung and Apple together have mopped up almost all profit margins in the smartphone industry, hurting rivals like HTC. Samsung is now synonymous with Android for retailers and consumers alike, leaving aside a very small potential consumer base for others. Also Read - HTC's design head resigns less than a year after taking the top job
HTC’s troubles intensified in the last quarter with a mass exodus of senior executives, further undermining Chou’s position in the company. HTC was the original manufacturer of the first Windows Mobile smartphones that were carried by almost every major carrier globally in the early 2000’s before HTC decided to launch smartphones under its own brandname, first Dopod and then HTC in 2007. Google partnered with HTC to launch the first commercially available Android smartphone, the G1 and was also the partner of choice when Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8 with HTC smartphones used in most marketing and promotional materials even though it had a strategic tie-up with rival Nokia. Also Read - HTC replaces Peter Chou with Chairwoman Cher Wang as new CEO
Poor product planning in the last couple of years meant HTC faced critical component supplies. In 2011-12, consumers, retailers and analysts found HTC’s product portfolio to be too confusing with many products overlapping and having too many choices than necessary, often leading to inventory issues in some markets. Learning from that experience HTC decided to have a more streamlined portfolio and lesser number of models.
But its flagship One smartphone was delayed for almost a month after it turned out that components of the Ultrapixel camera, a USP of the phone, was in short supply. HTC lost out on the lead in period it had over Samsung’s Galaxy S4 smartphone, which launched earlier than the One in many markets. HTC also tied up with Facebook to launch the First, a smartphone with Facebook’s launcher, but that product too bombed in the US and its Europe launch has been put off. Betting on the wrong horses like the Ultrapixel camera and the Facebook phone reveal the poor user research and product portfolio planning that was prevalent in the company.
Chou says things have improved at HTC but that is something that only time will tell.