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HTC One M8 Is A Great Phone, But …

It’s a great phone, better than last year’s version, which was HTC’s best-seller ever. Will the next-generation HTC One (M8),however, win back market share for the beleaguered company?

HTC seems to be on the right track, having made the flagship available earlier in the year than last year when supply-chain issues delayed availability for two months after it was announced. The company has also hired actor Gary Oldman to promote the device in ads, including TV ads. HTC also plans billboards in Times Square, one of which will specifically ridicule Samsung’s Next Big Thing tagline.

So what do analysts think?

Julian Jest of Informa Telecoms and Media said HTC “is better placed this time around to succeed with its new flagship device and appears to have addressed the distribution issues that plagued the One (M7).” HTC’s new phone is even better-looking than its predecessor, thanks to extending the aluminum back casing to wrap around the sides of the device, which also makes the device more comfortable to hold, Jest said. The One (M8) also “represents a continued push by HTC to develop and use more of its own technology, particularly in optics and in audio. It is likely that there will be a lot of interest from consumers over the inclusion of two rear-facing cameras,” which captures depth information so that users can add targeted special effects after photos are taken. Also new is a better front-facing camera with 5-megapixel capability and 80-degree image capture for selfies.

But these aren’t enough to succeed, Jest warned. “While it is undoubtedly important for HTC to pack its devices with innovative features, this won’t be enough. HTC needs to be proactive in engaging with mobile operators and handset retailers to ensure that sales assistants are adequately trained on how to demonstrate the technology.”

For his part, independent analyst Jeff Kagan has the same concerns.

The HTC One M7 “was a good, solid, reliable smartphone,” Kagan said. “On the other hand, HTC had very weak advertising, marketing, public relations and brand building. In the wireless business you need both. It’s like a great steak with great sizzle, or a great cake with great frosting. Companies need great technology and great marketing. HTC had great technology, but they missed on the marketing side last year.”

“The real question is have they learned their lessons on the advertising, marketing, public relations and brand side?” he said.

Everyone will be watching.