HTC Might Be Throwing in the Towel - The UpStream

HTC Might Be Throwing in the Towel

posted Saturday Aug 26, 2017 by Scott Ertz

HTC Might Be Throwing in the Towel

The smartphone market has changed a lot in the past decade. Where once there was a thriving marketplace of ideas and platforms, today we have but 2 with commercial viability: iOS and Android. As the shift from diversity and choice to more sterile uniformity has been accepted, it has claimed some of the pioneers of the industry. For example, BlackBerry has abandoned its purposefully secure platform in favor of the security lacking Android. But other manufacturers have made self-sacrifices in the name of Android which have ultimately cost them dearly.

Motorola and HTC were both early innovators in the formerly diverse smartphone ecosystem. Motorola made phones with and without physical keyboards, featuring Windows Mobile 5 and 6. HTC produced white labeled hardware for Palm, white labeled hardware for carriers, like T-Mobile, as well as devices under their own brand. HTC's devices ran Palm OS as well as Windows Mobile. Both manufacturers recognized the value of additional diversity early on, quickly adding Android devices to their lineups. The decision has not fared well for either.

Motorola put themselves up for sale several years ago, ending up in Google's hands. As expected, Google was incapable of running a hardware division, and Motorola was eventually sold to Lenovo at a $9 billion loss. Lenovo has some ideas to revive the brand, but so far has not had the successes they had hoped for.

Now we have HTC, the company at the center of the smartphone market for many years, looking to go the same way. After putting all of their eggs in the Android basket, as opposed to embracing the diversity that made them a success, the company has found themselves unable to compete with the likes of Samsung. In an attempt to diversity their offerings, they paired up with Valve to create the HTC Vive VR hardware, which has seen some successes, but the market is simply not large enough to support the company.

According to Bloomberg, the company is exploring strategic options, which is business speak for looking for a buyer. The current wisdom points to interest from Google, who already ran Motorola into the ground. Though they have learned some about running a hardware division, the idea of Google succeeding in the phone business themselves is almost a joke. Their Nexus/Pixel program has been a much better idea, as Google gets to spotlight some of their strategic partners, as opposed to trying to understand the difficult nature of hardware development.

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