In the Android smartphone market, it’s fair to say that some manufacturers are doing much better than others. Samsung takes the vast majority of profits, and enjoys the number one position worldwide. Huawei is a rising star, and China-based original equipment manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo have experienced an incredible amount of success, lately, too. On the other hand, HTC’s struggling to claw its way back to fiscal stability.
To recap: HTC’s earnings have been steadily declining since 2011, the year when the company ceded its top position in the Android smartphone market to Samsung. Despite acclaimed devices such as the One M7 in 2013, the company found itself unable to slow a downward spiral — innovations like unibody metal construction, secondary cameras with depth-of-field effects, and rear fingerprint sensors did nothing to prop up declining revenue.
This year, HTC released the U11, and things looked encouraging in the beginning. Some reports suggested that the U11 was selling better than the HTC 10 and the One M9 in some markets, but the good times didn’t last. In August, the Taiwan-based company posted its lowest revenue in thirteen years, a precipitous decline from earnings earlier in the year.
In October, the company reported revenue of NT$6.06 billion (~$200 million), down 25.79 percent year-over-year compared October 2016’s revenue of NT$ 8.1 billion ($268 million). And the situation isn’t getting any better — HTC recently released its unaudited revenue report for November, which pegged the company’s earnings at a disappointing NT$5.663 billion (~$188 million). That’s down 6.61 percent from October’s revenue, and down 26.16 percent from November 2016’s revenue, which was NT$7.67 billion (~255 million).
In even worse news, the total revenue HTC’s earned so far this year sits at NT$58.1 billion (~$1.93 billion), which is 19.03 percent lower than the January-November period in 2016.
In a potential harbinger of things to come, it recently agreed to sell Google a part of its smartphone division for $1.1 billion. For HTC, the compensation was a considerable windfall as it struggles to keep itself afloat. (According to HTC’s Vice President, the deal is on track to be approved and closed by early 2018.)
At this point, it’s difficult to see what options HTC has left to grow its smartphone business. Its most recent flagship phone, the U11+, hasn’t seen a global rollout nearly a monther after its announcement, and it won’t be coming to the US. The company’s said that it’ll keep making HTC-branded phones next year, which is good news for devoted fans who’d otherwise be out of luck. But it’s unclear how the strategy will be received by the company’s stakeholders.
For the sake of competition, we hope that HTC manages to see light at the end of the tunnel.