It wasn’t so long ago when HTC was a formidable name in the smartphone industry. Trumping other tech giants in both hardware and software, the Taiwanese company was in the fast lane to world domination. But, as quick as its ascension was, so was its downfall. As a consequence of fierce competition and several grave decisions, they dwindled. With the significant market share it once so comfortably controlled now nearly plundered, there seems to be little hope for recovery.
If you’re wondering how HTC went from setting the pace to barely breathing, here’s a quick chronology of events.
After a slew of exciting products, HTC finally achieved global success in 2010 when it was named one of the most innovative companies on the planet, thanks to a little piece of software called TouchFLO 3D. Essentially a Windows Mobile overlay, TouchFLO 3D was acclaimed for turning the boring Windows homepage into a sleek, useful interface, where one could search through contacts, make calls, send messages and check emails with ease. While Windows Mobile died soon after the Android and iOS revolution, they cleverly ported the software to Android and rebranded it into what we know today as HTC Sense.
What followed were some thoroughly impressive smartphones, including the Google Nexus One, the first Nexus-branded smartphone. However, Samsung and Apple were leveling up the competition. As the market started to experience drastic changes, HTC saw it fit to create a premium smartphone range, which it called the ‘One’ series.
The first flagship in the new franchise, the One X, was a critical and commercial success. But it wasn’t until 2013 when HTC made its boldest move ever. Despite remarkable flagships from rival manufacturers, the HTC One – codenamed the M7 – topped many end-year lists of the best smartphones.
However, the overwhelming acclaim for the HTC One was soon to become the prime reason for the company’s decline. As smartphones rapidly evolved, all we saw from HTC were phones that seemed more like subtle updates to the One than new devices. Every flagship since, from its immediate successor, the One M8, to last year’s HTC 10, has looked more or less the same. And with no new features to deliver the company from this unpleasant redundancy, sales have steadily plummeted.
A shimmer of hope
We’re now knee-deep in 2017, and newer players like Huawei and LG have sailed past the troubled HTC. Exemplary gadgets, such as the Huawei P10, the LG G6, and the Samsung Galaxy S8 have adversely affected HTC’s remaining share of the market. With its newly released and critically-panned flagship, the U Ultra, now all but forgotten, the company desperately needs something that’ll leave a mark, just as the HTC One did four years ago.
Going by the latest reports, however, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. HTC is supposedly planning a possible comeback with a smartphone that you can squeeze from the sides to enable some functions. Now, before you get any crazy ideas, the upcoming HTC U 11 won’t be a rubber device. Rather, the metal frame will include embedded pressure sensors, allowing a user to control settings and launch specific apps by squeezing the edges or swiping up and down on them.
To some, the prospect may not sell as ground-breaking, especially considering that Samsung has had touch-sensitive edges on its devices since the Galaxy S6 Edge. But, having a phone you can not only touch, but also squeeze is intriguing, to say the least.
HTC developers aren’t spilling any beans, but the company has shared a teaser video for the imminent release, which shows a hand squeezing the edges of the device. The announcement is apparently set for 16th May, at an event that will span Taipei, London, and New York. I presume more light will be shed on the squeeze mechanics, as well as other features, before the D-day.
The concept of a squeezable phone sounds a little ludicrous, but if done right, it could be the new trendsetting feature that brings HTC back into the spotlight.