HTC on Tuesday announced the HTC 10, a $699 Android 6 (Marshmallow) smartphone that seems to touch on all the design and feature wishes of any high-end smartphone customer.
However, those plums won't be enough for the HTC 10 to sell well in a crowded Android field, analysts said, even with its 5.2-in. display, fast Snapdragon 820 processor, metal case and superior camera technology. HTC is facing slipping market share and desperately needs to score a success, they said.
"Even with a device like the HTC 10, which has a clean design and … improved internals, HTC simply lacks the scale to effectively compete with Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, LG and Lenovo," said Jack Narcotta, an analyst at TBR.
"On paper, HTC has the right strategy and the right products," Narcotta added. "The problem is that the premium Android space is toxic to nearly all Android manufacturers. Only the largest are able to endure there, and HTC is simply outgunned."
Narcotta further predicted that unless HTC's recently announced Vive VR headset "vaults into a billion dollar business, HTC is doomed."
Shrinking market share
TBR estimated that HTC's U.S. market share last December was less than 4%, and was even less globally.
Analyst firm IDC said HTC hasn't been among the top five smartphone makers for several years and ranked 15th globally in smartphone shipments in 2015. It was seventh in the U.S.
In terms of sales, Gartner said HTC went from a 2.2% share globally in 2013, down to 1.3% last year.
Searching for what 'juices the game'
"HTC 10 hits all the high points -- design, music, screen and camera -- but you have to come up with something else to juice the game," said IDC analyst Will Stofega.
By comparison, Samsung may have hit on something effective in its marketing of the new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones bundled with the Samsung Gear VR.
Soon, Samsung will sell the Gear 360, a spherical VR camera. "Samsung has it right with bundling its newest phones with other products that are not overly expensive," Stofega said.
Likewise, Huawei and its new P9 smartphone with the Leica branded dual-lens camera, announced last week, could be distinctive enough to make some difference in a highly competitive market, he added.
Smartphone companies have always had to find a singular but sometimes elusive quality to market in a new device and then spend marketing dollars to back it up. Innovations, such as flexible and foldable screens and faster 5G wireless, that are clearly different from today's products, will take much longer to arrive, possibly not until 2022.
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