HTC's smartphone design chief hangs it up

Jonah Becker, who oversaw the development of the newly released HTC One M9 smartphone, is the second head of design to leave the company in less than a year.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Jonah Becker has left HTC, but where he's going next is unknown. Jonah Becker

Smartphone maker HTC may be finding itself a little unsteady in the design department.

On Thursday, HTC's associate vice president of industrial design, Jonah Becker, announced on his Twitter feed that he has left the company. He didn't say what his plans are, but asked his followers to "stay tuned for details on what's next."

Becker had been in the post for less than a year, after replacing Scott Croyle as chief designer last April.

And his departure isn't the only executive shift for HTC this month. Last week, the company announced that co-founder and chairwoman Cher Wang would replace long-time CEO Peter Chou, who will remain at the company to help develop new products. Under Chou, HTC was known for its innovative designs.

As the design chief, Becker oversaw the development of of devices including the company's recently unveiled HTC One M9 smartphone. While the device received generally strong reviews, including a four-star rating from CNET's Reviews team, some critics complained that it hardly distinguished itself at all from last year's One M8.

"For better or worse, the phone feels like a rerun of last year's HTC One," CNET's Andrew Hoyle wrote in his review of the One M9 last week.

HTC is in the middle of a rebuild at all levels as it tries to compete more effectively against the likes of Apple and Samsung. Though it had a moment in the sun several years ago, the company since then has failed to convince consumers that it has compelling products worthy of stealing attention -- and dollars -- from the iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy line, among other competitors.

Meanwhile, the company has started to branch out with a wider range of gadgets, including the HTC Re camera , HTC Grip fitness band and HTC Vive virtual-reality headset.

The efforts seem to be working a bit. HTC has shown some improvement over the last two quarters by stabilizing its revenue and profits. The company's devices have also tended to receive positive reviews.

It's unclear what motivated Becker's departure. At least publicly, HTC and Becker are saying that he's looking forward to a "new adventure."

In a statement to several media outlets, HTC said that Becker has been replaced by Daniel Hundt, its creative director.

HTC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.