“If it wasn’t for the One, HTC probably wouldn’t be here today,” says Scott Croyle, vice president of design at HTC. Croyle is giving me a tour of the company’s San Francisco studio, which was acquired when HTC bought the One & Co. design firm in 2008. “It’s the reason we’re still in the conversation.”

Four years ago, HTC was at the top of its game. It had successfully transitioned from a white label smartphone pioneer to a well-known brand. The EVO 4G was making waves on the market, ushering in the era of broadband data and big screens. It had strong relationships with every major carrier, and was the premier Android smartphone manufacturer taking on Apple. By the end of 2010, it had ridden its wave of success to take 20 percent of the US smartphone market, beating out even RIM (which was still a major industry force at the time) and claiming the top spot in America.

But then Samsung happened. Beginning in 2011 with the Galaxy S II, and continuing through 2012 and 2013, Samsung flooded the smartphone market with devices and brand recognition at every price point. It especially hammered the premium market where HTC’s smartphones were riding high. Samsung accompanied the product blitz with massive marketing campaigns that continue to this day — from the Oscars to the Super Bowl, there really isn’t far you can go without having a Samsung ad thrown in your face.

By the end of 2013, HTC’s market share had tumbled down well below 10 percent, and the company had posted its first ever quarterly loss.