HTC released a new version of its mainstay One smartphone, a device it’s counting on to help restore profitability.
The HTC One M8 features a 5-inch full high-definition screen, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 processor and a micro SD slot, the Taiwan-based company said in a presentation in New York. Its physical design mirrors that of last year’s HTC One model, which suffered production delays and a shortage of components.
Nine consecutive quarters of sales declines pushed HTC in 2013 to its first full-year loss, as its marketing budget shrank and it faced stiffer competition from rivals including China-based Lenovo.
HTC, whose North American headquarters is in Bellevue, has worked to solve the production problems of last year, while a wider portfolio of mid-end devices will help it reach more consumers this year, Chief Financial Officer Chang Chialin said last month.
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Preorders for the One M8 started Monday at Verizon, Sprint and AT&T, which is selling the phone at $199.99 on a two-year contract.
The device will be available at all major carriers in April.
“The new HTC One is certainly an impressive device — the design is stunning,” said Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis who was at the HTC media event. “It should sell well to early adopters who are looking for premium design, but HTC will need effective marketing to break through to mainstream consumers who are starting, and usually ending, their buying process with Apple or Samsung.”
The phone’s camera will automatically sync photos and video so they’re stored online. The device includes free replacement of broken screens — a major smartphone hazard — for the first six months.
HTC bets features like those will succeed where the previous One model fell short. A sleek metal case, a new camera that captures more light and stereo speakers weren’t enough to end a sales slump when HTC introduced the second-generation One in February 2013. Limited supply of the new camera’s components was among bottlenecks that forced HTC to delay a wider release of the device by about two months.
Sales of the One line rose in 2013 from 2012, with a drop in other models contributing most to the decline in revenue and income, Chang said.
To ensure the new One device helps reverse those declines, HTC is starting an advertising campaign on TV and billboards to highlight the critical acclaim it has received.
The commercials, with pitchman Gary Oldman and the slogan “Ask the Internet,” were to start running Monday night in prime time in the U.S., said John McGonigle at advertising firm Deutsch, which represents HTC.
In addition to more phones, HTC is working to develop wearable devices that will be available for purchase by the end of this year. Executives gave a private preview of a watch based on Qualcomm’s Toq design platform at the Mobile World Congress trade show last month.