First Click: What will HTC look like in two years?

February 19th, 2016

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Don’t worry, I’m not going to rehash the troubled history of HTC again. The Verge’s Vlad Savov has done that time and time and time again. His hopes for a turnaround so thoroughly dashed that he can often be found muttering incomprehensible phrases like “Zoe predates Live Photos,” or “the Incredible S was incredible.” Mention HTC’s recent earnings and Vlad’s eyes roll back as if to gain enough momentum to push out a whisper so frail that you have to lean forward to hear it:

“Why even try?” he says, not expecting an answer.

Roll the clock back six years and we see HTC kicking off 2010 as the anointed child of Google with its Nexus One flagship. HTC went on to set financial record after record as it transitioned its lineup away from Windows Mobile to become what many considered the premier builder of Android OS devices. By Q4 of 2010, HTC was posting net profits of $444 million off revenues of $3.1 billion. Two weeks ago, HTC posted a net loss of $101 million on just $766 million in revenue for the same Christmas quarter — its third straight quarterly loss. The Street is rife with talk of a possible takeover now that HTC’s market cap has fallen to $1.98 billion, about 1/8th the price of WhatsApp.

For HTC fans, it’s been a dramatic and heartbreaking fall from grace. The upcoming One M10, or whatever it will be called, is unlikely to reverse that — no singular device can, no matter how excellent, in an industry dominated by ecosystems. The SteamVR-powered Vive headset is the only remaining spark on an otherwise scorched HTC landscape. Even then, consumer appetite for VR is untested and likely to remain a relatively niche product (compared to smartphones) for the next several years.

So, dear reader, I put it to you: what will be HTC's fate?

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