HTC's options are narrowing quickly

Caroline Gabriel/Wireless Watch
29 May 2013

HTC, once the vendor which led the Android assault on Apple's smartphone kingdom, is now joining BlackBerry and Nokia in the group of suppliers struggling to stay relevant in a market dominated by the Apple/Samsung axis.

Like those two wounded lions, HTC has upped its game in the quality of the hardware it delivers, but this has not been enough to address the challenges of playing in an Android sector where Samsung takes home the bulk of the profits and where the low end is increasingly targeted by Chinese suppliers.

HTC has suffered from self-confessed marketing mistakes; from dwindling ability to get the best terms from suppliers – a key Samsung weapon; and from a failure to differentiate sufficiently from other Android players. This has resulted in a succession of poor quarterly results and drops in market share.

Fears for the firm's future are mounting further as a string of senior executives leaves. The most high profile departure came as HTC acknowledged this week that its chief product officer, Kouji Kodera, has left, despite having headed up the launch of the new flagship HTC One – widely well reviewed and a strong Android smartphone, but still overshadowed by the mighty Galaxy feature list, marketing machine and supply chain.

Kodera joined HTC in 2010, amid some fan-fare, from Sony Ericsson, and was part of a team placed in charge of a renewed push to turn out high profile superphones. He is replaced at HTC by Scott Croyle, previously VP of design.

Other recent defections have included Asia region CEO Lennard Hoornik (according to CNet); plus Jason Gordon, VP of global communications, whose role has currently been taken by CMO Benjamin Ho; global retail marketing manager Rebecca Rowland; director of digital marketing John Starkweather; and product strategy manager Eric Lin. Lin, who left for Skype, even tweeted colleagues at HTC to head for the door, urging them to “just quit, leave now.”

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