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What HTC could learn from LG
Samsung is clearly the current king of the Android universe. Many believe Samsung accomplished this position by investing heavily in advertising. That is certainly part of it, but I think Samsung has done other things well too. They struck the compromise approach between form and function (an approach that worked well for Microsoft in the desktop war with Linux and Macintosh), offering specs and features people wanted in an attractive and economical design. Finally and perhaps most importantly in the US market, they embraced the cadence of carrier contracting.
The concept of cadence is important because most consumers know that the early upgrade notification means your subsidy is paid off and you are no longer playing with house money. If you don't upgrade your phone then you are just throwing money away. Towards that end, Samsung staggers their 2 major releases on a steady cadence, H1 will always see a Galaxy flag-ship midsize phone launch (S5 etc,) and H2 will see the next generation phablet launch with the Note iteration. This product cadence gives consumers a top of the line device from Samsung with every customer contract renewal eligibility notification.
LG seems to have picked up on all of these and rather intelligently staggered their product cadence opposite Samsung offerings in each product category. So the last generation saw the midsized G2 launch near the phablet Note 3 rather than it's direct competitor S4, and now that the G Pro 2 launches roughly the same time as the S5 rather than the direct competition (presumably Note 4). This gives LG roughly 6 months to be the product leader in each category alternating with Samsung.
LG also learned the value of form/function/quality compromise. I am impressed to see the G Pro 2 has a removable battery, quality screen, OIS, and knock unlock. LG also seems to be spending more on advertising lately. In my observation LG has gone from a manufacturer of small bargain phones to a producer of devices that effectively compete with Samsung in each segment.
HTC on the other hand developed 1 device last year. It was a solid device but it was definitely the Mercedes approach not the Toyota approach putting form over function and economy. It is a formula that works for limited numbers but HTC expected to sell large numbers. Then the HTC Max was just a disappointment, spec wise it was showing its age before it even launched, no real new features, no new hardware innovation, nothing was developed, just an HTC One with a larger screen. TheMax was launched in the same half as the vastly superior Note 3 it was hoping to compete with. This timing and lack of innovation pretty much guaranteed the only people buying the One Max would be those looking for a fashion accessory not a utilitarian device.
My first Android phone was an EVO 4G and I liked HTC, I hope they get back to their roots this year.