Even though HTC has just come off of a record-breaking third quarter, it seems like some of the company’s mobile momentum is evaporating. The Taiwanese company recently cut their Q4 sales forecasts by more than 20%, and thanks to HTC’s unaudited November financials, it’s clear that the move was a wise one.
The financial report reveals a considerable drop in revenue when compared to HTC’s performance this time in 2010. Last month HTC had revenues of NT$30.9 billion (or $1.02 billion), while last year they managed to pull in nearly NT$38.5 billion ($1.27 billion). That’s almost a 20% dip in revenues year-over-year, which could put an end to HTC’s continuous growth streak.
Before this rough patch, HTC enjoyed six consecutive quarters of growth. It’s an impressive feat, considering competitors like LG’s mobile division has spent that same amount of time in a free fall.
So what gives? Was it just a bad month, or is it a sign of bigger, more dire days to come? It’s tough to say: when HTC slashed their sales forecast, they pegged it partially on the “global macroeconomic downturn,” but they also admitted that increased market competition made their forecast inaccurate. I sincerely doubt that increasing market competition is going to diminish any time soon, and that leaves HTC in something of a tough spot.
Apple has tremendous brand power and Samsung has design and production expertise. What does HTC have to lean on? Sense? Beats Audio? These are potentially great additions to a device, but it’s been a while since HTC has designed an entire package that took someone’s breath away.
Though I went through a phase of spec-geek lust for the HTC Rezound, nothing that HTC has put out in recent months seems terribly new or groundbreaking. That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing — they’ve found a formula for touchscreen smartphones that has clearly been working for them — but maybe it’s time for HTC to mix things up a bit. Giving Sense the boot would be a welcome change, if I may be be so bold. I’m sure it has its fans, but all of Sense’s eye-candy always made whatever HTC device I was using feel just slow enough to be unsettling.
Really, what I think HTC needs is a flagship device a la the Galaxy S II: something the represents the pinnacle of HTC’s design and technical abilities. If they could design, produce, and throw their weight behind a device like that, HTC could potentially get back on the growth track.
Depressing though the November results may be, HTC can still take solace in the fact that they took the mantle of number one smartphone vendor in the United States, just barely pulling ahead of Apple in Q3. Still, it’s going to take some bold moves from HTC in coming months if they want to keep their mobile mojo intact. With any luck, their 2012 portfolio will further cement HTC’s position in the major leagues.