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Through the looking glass : HTC 2014

2013 has been a mixed bag for HTC for sure. What started off as a good year with major praise and acclaim for the One,  a mega partnership with one of the biggest celebrities out there,  a renewed focus on marketing as platitudes came along with their first ever loss, major design professionals leaving, shifting bases back to Taiwan as the other side of the coin.

Lets look forward though… Here is my through the looking glass vision for the company in 2014 based on what I as an Indian Customer would like to see, I hope a lot of you International Customers will chime in with some comments 🙂

 

The Hardware Side:

 

Whats Next?

Whats Next?

Lets start off the year with a big refresh to the way things work by deciding to work on a common platform for each segment of Phones.

The shared Hardware base will make sure that the Software team has a common base to work with, ensuring innovation and not driver optimization is their main focus, which will hopefully lead to better updates and lightning fast updates when Android does.
The Segments could be represented as follows:
1) High End: One+, One Mini+, One Max+
2) Mid Range: Desire+, Desire Mini+, Desire Max+
3) Low End: Pop+, Pop Mini+, Pop Max+
I’m refering to the successors to the One, One Mini and One Max as the One+ , One Mini+ and One Max+ respectively.
There is an all new line for the Low End and Mid Range.

Looking at the High end:

Hardware Specifications:
  1.  1080p Screen, SLCD4(?)
    • 4.7″ for the One+
    • 4.3″ for the One Mini+
    • 5.2″ for the One Max+
  2. 3GB+ of RAM
  3. 64 bit Processor (don’t know the code names or who might make it so leaving it open)
  4. Boom sound with some wizardry to make it sound even better, on the hardware side, pull in some Bose magic maybe?
  5. A higher resolution Ultrapixels Camera, atleast 8 would be great with OIS
  6. Utilizing the additional thickness due to the higher resolution cam to put in a bigger battery, maybe try to use some of the flexible battery tech with LG has been researching
  7. A unibody aluminum body with required cuts for Signals etc.
  8. Thinner Bezels
  9. Storage which starts at 64GB and goes up from there; MicroSD is a bonus
  10. Nanotech Waterproof coating as standard
  11. Super Sensitive touch screen
  12. Something akin to ClearBlack to improve screen visibility outside

This for me would check all the boxes from a hardware point of view. Coming to the Software the most I can say is the latest version of Android and Sense, not much else to describe.

The Launch of the One+ would ideally be right at the start of Summer with a clear 2 week window before the next Galaxy S model does.
Follow this up with a late summer and Fall Launch of the One Mini+ and One Max+ respectively, in these models the only main differences being the Mini+ has a 4.2″ Screen and the Max+ a 5.5″ Screen with smaller and larger batteries respectively due to space constraints.
From a pricing point of view at Launch
1) One+ : Rs 40000 ($650 Unlocked)
2) One Mini+ : Rs 30000 ($487 Unlocked)
3) One Max+ : Rs 50000 ($813 Unlocked)

Looking at the Mid Range:

 
Hardware Specifications:
  1.  720p Screen, SLCD3
    • 4.7″ for the Desire+
    • 4.3″ for the Desire Mini+
    • 5.2″ for the Desire Max+
  2. 2GB of RAM
  3. Snapdragon 600 Processor
  4. Boom sound
  5. A 4 Ultrapixel Camera with OIS
  6. Large battery as a larger thickness in the mid range would allow for that
  7. A unibody Polycarbonate design which has obvious inspiration from the One series
  8. Bezels as thick as that on the One currently
  9. Storage which starts at 32GB and goes up from there, MicroSD is a bonus
From a Mid Range Users point of view this would in my opinion leave someone extremely happy for their 2 year phone cycle and maybe a bit beyond that also.
The Desire Series can be launched altogether during Summer to Capitalize on the Teens exiting School and Junior Colleges and who are aspiring for something better.
From a Pricing Point of View:
1) Desire+ : Rs 28000 ($450 Unlocked)
2) Desire Mini+ : Rs 23000 ($ 373 Unlocked)
3) Desire Max+ : Rs 32000 ($520 Unlocked)
The price might seem just a tad on the higher side, but looking at the 4.3″ , 4.7″ and 5.2″ as separate phone categories the pricing starts making a bit more sense.

Looking at the Low End:

 
Hardware Specifications:
  1.  qHD (960 x 540) Screen, SLCD3
    • 4.7″ for the Pop+
    • 4.3″ for the Pop Mini+
    • 5.2″ for the Pop Max+
  2. 1GB of RAM
  3. Snapdragon 400 Processor
  4. Slightly lower quality Boom sound
  5. An 8 Megapixel Camera with BIS
  6. Large enough battery to ensure that cost control is there, battery should be removable
  7. Plastic body with enough rigidity to make the handset seem well built
  8. Bezel thickness is not much of an issue
  9. Storage which starts at 16GB and goes up from there; MicroSD is a bonus
This would satisfy the Low End users out there and the above specifications have become common enough that cost control can be much better.
The Pop series can be Launched through out the year at any point, hopefully in a period where it has visibility, its success will depend on pricing, discounts and brand recall.
From a Pricing Point of View:
1) Pop+ : Rs 18000 ($292 Unlocked)
2) Pop Mini+ : Rs 15000 ($245 Unlocked)
3) Pop Max+ : Rs 23000 ($373 Unlocked)

The software kitchen:

 

Moving forward

Moving forward

Well I’m no software whiz with a deep knowledge of what a company can and cannot do, but lets have a go at it anyways eh?

Sense is personally one of my favorite skins, even more than Stock Android (Sacrilege I know right!). I think HTC really pulled off a lot of good stuff with Sense 5 and further improved it with the change logs I have read on Sense 5.5.
Well there is always room for improvement though right?
So lets see what I think needs improvement there:
1) Unlimited homescreens
2) An option for Side to Side Scrolling
3) Sense TV support in India
4) 360 Degree Panorama Mode in the Camera
5) Ability to place Blinkfeed on whichever home screen you want
6) Refreshed HD Visuals for the Weather live wallpaper
7) More options to drill down in the Battery Usage section
8) A easier unified contact book, pretty sure there can be usability tweaks there right?
9) Ability to enter your own lyrics for songs when Grace Note can’t match it up, it has this awesome mode, why not make it even better
10) Easier way to turn off all animations, trading sleekness for raw speed, I’m not going to do it however a lot of people will appreciate it
11) Custom Theme Packs within the Sense Launcher, would make for a far more personal experience
12) An even more powerful Notes app, its already great with Evernote integration built in, dail it up to 11 eh?
Of course the regular list of wants like better Battery optimization, App support etc goes without saying.
One of the key things however is going to be offering a consistent experience across the One+, Desire+ and Pop+ lines, the shared Hardware Platforms should help mightily in this regard.
Plus make sure your the first one out of the gate for the full year in getting the latest Android Versions out the door.

Marketing Peoples Socks Off:

Lets make him rock!

Lets make him rock!

Brand recall, Brand recall, Brand Recall and then Pricing, thats the way people usually think when they are buying their phones. No I’m not talking about us geeks but the regular Joe’s the ones which make up the bread and butter for any business.

We already have a Mega Star, lets leverage him better. Show him using the phones, get him to get caught at Events like the Oscars and other Awards deliberately showing it off. Work with an AD agency which specializes in Viral videos.
Its going to be impossible to battle Samsung or Apple in a direct campaign but leverage the awesome power of the Net in your advantage and its definitely possible.

Customer First Always:

Bite the Bullet and make sure that you invest in the Customer Service network. A step in the right direction was already taken when you increased call hours. In the same vein how about a 24 Hour help line? A spare phone no matter the class of customer who comes in? Reasonable pricing for spares?
Remaining active and responsive on Social Media is also going to be super important here, these are the spaces where a customer will first reach out nowadays, hoping that sharing will make sure he gets better service, recognize that power and make sure it doesn’t work against us.
This was my look at what HTC could do over the next 12 months starting Jan, 2014. I look forward to hearing your comments and editing and enhancing this post as your views come in 🙂
Cheers.
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