Tech Industry

HTC Q4 profit, sales plunge amid holiday crush

Not even a flagship smartphone at Verizon Wireless could help the handset maker's results, which continue their downward trajectory.

The Droid DNA didn't help HTC's results in the fourth quarter. Sarah Tew/CNET

Apparently, the worst isn't over for HTC.

The Taiwanese company today reported that its fourth-quarter profit fell more than 90 percent to 1 billion Taiwanese dollars (US$34 million) from more than 10 billion Taiwanese dollars a year ago. Sales fell roughly 40 percent to 60 billion Taiwanese dollars.

The poor results mark the lowest profit in eight years for HTC, according to Bloomberg, and further illustrate the difficult position that it continues to be in. The results come despite having a flagship smartphone at Verizon Wireless in the Droid DNA, as well as the marquee smartphone for Windows Phone 8 in the Windows Phone 8X.

HTC has a virtual non-presence at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, which is expected to be light on mobile news.

The earnings numbers also come quickly on the heels of HTC CEO Peter Chou vowing that HTC will have a better year in 2013, blaming some of the weakness on the lack of marketing support.

The company, however, finds itself outgunned by larger competitors such as Apple and Samsung Electronics, which have much larger war chests to draw upon for their marketing campaigns. While HTC was an early darling of the Android community, much of the buzz has since shifted over to Samsung.

HTC began to show cracks about a year ago, when its 2011 fourth-quarter results disappointed for the first time. Since then HTC has shown consistent year-over-year declines as consumers move away from its smartphone products.

Industry observers, meanwhile, struggle to see how HTC can get back to its lofty position given its relatively limited resources. The company has attempted to compensate by partnering more closely with allies such as the carriers and with Microsoft, but that hasn't yet paid off.

HTC isn't in as bad a position as some of its peers, including former heavy hitters such as LG and Nokia. Both those companies, and several other handset makers, continue to post losses.

It remains to be seen whether HTC and Chou will make good on his vow to turn things around. The last year has shown that even good phones get ignored without the proper support.