Can HTC regain the Android throne?

Once dominant in the Android space, HTC now faces an uphill battle. What will it take to get back to the glory days? And more importantly, can they?

Can HTC stage a quietly brilliant comeback?

Once a dominant player in the Android space, HTC now struggles against the likes of Samsung and Motorola.

It's a sad state for a company that gave us the first Android phone in 2008 with the T-Mobile G1. Yet, after disappointing financial results , HTC is now in the unenviable position of discussing a comeback .

A company-wide e-mail from CEO Peter Chou recently leaked to the Internet, casting light on what HTC views as a hindrance to success. In a word, it's bureaucracy. Politics and internal regulations, and not just Samsung, are standing in the way of realizing bigger goals.

"We have people in meetings and talking all the time but without decision, strategic direction or sense of urgency. Bureaucracy crept in without clear ownership. We agreed to do something but we either didn't do it or executed it loosely. Don't let the processes, rules and norms to impact our important goals. Of course we have to follow certain rules and criteria but don't let small things kill the major goals." - August 9 e-mail titled "we are coming back"

HTC recently started taking steps to put things in order, first by scaling back the overall number of handset releases. While the previous few years were muddled with multiple versions of similar devices, 2012 saw the company go with "One" design. What's more, Beats integration has already changed in the few months since it was introduced in HTC smartphones. Here's what else is happening.

HTC One X Sarah Tew/CNET

Software updates
HTC is in the midst of rolling out Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich updates to a number of its products and expects to wrap things up soon. Looking forward, all eyes will turn to when Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will arrive. And if HTC is smart, it will dish Jelly Bean as soon as possible.

While we wait, though, HTC Source has done a good job of putting together a list of devices that it expects to get 4.1 updates. Based primarily on the processors, HTC Source sees the HTC Sensation , HTC Rezound , and the HTC Amaze 4G among models that should see Jelly Bean first.

Future devices
In years past, HTC has introduced new models for the fourth quarter. This year, signs point to an HTC One X successor which, naturally, includes a faster processor and a newer version of Android. Couple that with a rumored phone/tablet hybrid device and the end of 2012 could be rather interesting.

If given the opportunity to throw my two cents in, I'd suggest that HTC continues with the whole "less is more" approach. I'd like to see it go with fewer models per year, perhaps even less than in 2012. We don't need so many versions of the "One" series , even if most buyers are unaware that other models exist.

Also, forget the entry-level stuff for now and concentrate on going after those consumers who buy devices much more often. Take a page out of Samsung's book and release an annual, powerful, flagship device. Sure, you can sprinkle in a mid-level smartphone here and there to keep things fresh, but Apple and Samsung have proven that many will wait for that next, big thing. As Yoda tells Luke, consumers "must unlearn what they have learned." The sooner people stop expecting so many new releases, the better. Make 'em wait a bit and then hit them with a knockout punch.

Do you think HTC has what it takes to climb back atop the Android mountain? What would you suggest the company does to combat Samsung and other Android players? I'd love to hear your comments!

 

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