This week saw Samsung take over Times Square and Radio City Music hall in New York city to launch the latest in their line of highly succesful S series Android smartphones. Apart from the incredibly cringeworthy show Samsung put on to announce the handset the launch was noticable for other reasons. Firstly LG made a play to grab some of the limelight by having billboards placed directly above the Samsung ones advertising the LG Optimus G on the day of the event. But the agressive move came from HTC in the build up to, and during the show. A full on PR team was outside the location dispensing hot and cold snacks and drinks to those queueing to get in, and in what I thought was a clever move they also had some of the new HTC flagship devices (HTc One) with them to let the waiting masses try them before going in. Social media platforms then lit up with a full broadside from HTC as they made sure the world knew that they believed their own handset to be supperior, from software through to design and build. The night was then spent re-sharing comments from HTC supporters praising the HTC One and decrying the new S4.
Now just to clarify something here, I am without doubt an HTC fanBoi. Ever since I got my sweaty little mits on the HTC Hero I hjave had a love of the company. With that said, on the night of the launch I was fully behind HTC, they needed to come out fighting with the One and regain some of the market that share has so badly eroded itself over the last couple of years. What has since followed is a continuation of this attack albeit greatly reduced. We have seen interviews with various high up executives stating how the S4 lacks inovation, and once again focusing on the plastic body the phone has. The whole thing falls down for me on two levels. Firstly it’s just not very classy. HTC are a premium company, they sell high end handsets with a look and feel of quality so the cheap shots do not sit well. Secondly and perhaps more importantly I don’t see the tactic as a successful one. If I owned an S3 and HTC spent the night telling me that my choice of phone was wrong, that my plastic was not fantastic and I should instead buy a HTC One I would be a little insulted. Dazzle me with your product and you have a chance, tell me I have got it all wrong so far and you will find yourself way down the list of companies I want to give my hard earned cash to.
In the circles I follow on twitter and google plus I am now starting to see the backlash from Samsung users. Any chance HTC had of winning these people over has gone. Many more will feel the same and a large section of consumers will be out of reach. Now before and Samsung users get a little butthurt over this please remember that Samsung did a very similar thing at the launch of the iPhone 5, and had comparison sheets posted on-line before the Apple event was over. Their own TV adverts constantly take aim at apple users for making the wrong choice, and being honest there is no denying the success Samsung has had, so maybe that is where HTC plucked this strategy from. Perhaps Samsung have now become so dominant in the sector that they are now considered fair game for direct attacks and I am reading the situation wrong. What is most interesting is that prior to the day of the S4 launch when HTC were purely concentraiting on the positive features of the One without beating on anything else on the market I saw an incredible amount of interest in the handset. Apple users, Samsung users and every other type of phone buyer in between was looking at the One and seriously considering it a purchase. Since the event this rush of interest has fallen, and not because people believe the S4 to be a superior product. HTC have simply rubbed folk up the wrong way.
Maybe part of this is the culture you come from, here in the UK it has never been the done thing to blatantly attack a competitor in a marketing campaign but even if the advertising culture where you are from sees this as a norm, you still risk the problem I stated above. The Samsung show was only a couple of days ago, so when I see a thread in a themeing community full of comments defending plastic cases and disgarding the importance of looks (this is a theming community remember) it is obvious that the plan is backfiring. As I say the show was only a couple of days ago, HTC can still turn the negativity round but only if they change the focus of their marketing campaign. The HTC One is a beautiful handset, it has some fantastic hardware and a great screen. HTC should be able to sell this handset on it’s own merrits, sure they have some ground to make up but if they keep producing devices like this then they will surely do it.
I stated earlier on that I was a HTC FanBoi and I would love to see HTC back on top, but I would like to see them do it the right way by innovating, producing exceptional equipment and marketing it the right way.
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