Here's How Samsung Beat HTC To Become The Biggest Android Phone Maker

htc one x AT&T

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

When Google released Android to the world, it did so with a clunky HTC phone called the G1.The G1 didn’t exactly blow the doors off, but it laid the foundation for a good relationship between Google and HTC. As Android grew, so did HTC. 

This time last year, HTC shipped more smartphones to U.S. retailers than Samsung or Apple, according to Canalys data.

That was the peak for HTC. In the last year its marketshare has been clobbered. Samsung has taken over, becoming the number one Android phone maker in the U.S. and the world.

How did HTC lose its edge to Samsung? We asked Jason Mackenzie, president of global sales and marketing at HTC, what went wrong. He says HTC was out-gunned in the marketing department by Samsung and that’s why it lost.

Mackenzie was in our office last week as part of what appears to be a concerted effort on HTC’s part to get its name in the media.

“Samsung spent four to six times more in advertising than us,” said Mackenzie. He believes this marketing led to more people buying Samsung phones than HTC phones.

It sounded like something I’ve heard from Research In Motion. When sales slow, blame the ad people, not the product people.

Mackenzie, naturally, didn’t agree with this assessment. He says HTC’s phones are great. For what it’s worth, our tools editor Steve Kovach agrees. He says the HTC One X is a great phone. It’s ever so slightly worse than the Samsung Galaxy S III, but the differences are pretty much negligible. 

It’s an interesting conundrum for HTC. The phones are good, but people are skipping them for Samsung or Apple. It reminds me of Microsoft’s situation. It makes critically acclaimed phones people don’t care about. And it can’t get its sales going.

HTC plans to step up its branding, hoping that will get it back in the conversation. “We have to be bolder in our communication,” says Mackenzie. HTC’s tag line is “Quietly brilliant,” and Mackenzie thinks HTC has too often focused on the “quiet” part.

I’m not sure how HTC it gets its lead back, but it’s hard to believe better marketing is the answer. It needs something. What that something is, I don’t know. 

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