We spend a lot of time in Mobility TechZone noting that Apple has, of late, failed to innovate, and we recognize this - not its lack of desire to build a cheap iPhone for the low end Asian market - as the key to what Apple needs to do.
We have earmarked its upcoming World Wide Developers Conference as the time to show us some new innovation - and we have set expectations quite high (hey, we're simply using Apple's own standards here) for what Apple needs to make happen.
We know that Samsung is getting ready to launch its Galaxy S IV - or perhaps Samsung will call it something else in order to make it appear it is setting its own new technology bar for Apple to have to climb over. This will only be an illusion. Whatever Samsung pulls off will be based on what has been - giving credit where it is due - an excellent run of marketing for the company.
LeBron James, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogan…they are doing well with the next big thing already being here. And we can expect more of the same marketing along this line come March 14, 2013 or thereabouts.
But yesterday, HTC truly stepped up its game with its delivery of the HTC One - a stunning piece of hardware that also delivers the goods on the software side. Of greatest importance, when you look at this phone you don't find yourself saying, “OK, yet another Android phone with some whiz-bang gimmicks thrown in.” You look at the HTC One and you believe you’re looking at an HTC One - an original and extremely well-built device that has no "Androidiness" about it what so ever - though of course all of Android's best qualities are there underneath the skin.
The HTC One has achieved an excellent balance between hardware and software design - we can think of it as having moved the needle as far as Android is concerned - not from a pure operating system point of view but from the perspective of having delivered a fully integrated smartphone that is fresh, clean, and for Android-based hardware, innovative.
The innovation extends to the camera technology it uses, as well as to its much improved Sense UI - which gives the device an entirely clean and non-nerdy look. It captures the best of Windows Phone 8 Live Tiles and delivers a clean new feel.
When combined with the sleek aluminum unibody design, it spells out game-changer. Nokia will be following up the 920 with a lightweight aluminum bodied device as well - and aluminum will clearly define the next generation for a while. We don't hide our huge dislike for the flimsy feel of Samsung plastic bodies - and if the next-gen Samsung clings to plastic, look for a drop in sales.
By game-changer for HTC, we don't mean having pushed the true cutting edge of innovation and technology. It's still only an Android smartphone. The next Samsung will also still be only an Android smartphone. But HTC has achieved true "of the moment" innovation through its combined software/hardware design.
And we believe the One will fuel a surge in HTC sales because of it.
We're excited to see HTC step up its game - it has responded to the market as it needed to. It will be interesting to see if Samsung does the same or if it ends up relying too heavily on how it has moved forward in the past. If it doesn't move beyond the plastic it will harm itself. And Apple, meanwhile, cannot hope to rely on simply delivering updates to the existing iPhone or to iOS itself. Apple must deliver on true state of the art innovation - neither HTC nor Samsung will do so this year, which means the ball is in Apple's court to drive next real next generation change.
For now, the HTC One is in the spotlight - and it is also in a position to take up some market share growth. It is a game-changer at this moment in time. More power to it. We hope Apple responds in kind.
Edited by Braden Becker