HTC USA’s product team took to Reddit today to talk to its loyal customer base and wax poetic about the future of its business.
The moderated “Ask Me Anything” question and answer session featured Martin Fichter, Vice President of Product Management; Mohammed Versi, Executive Director of Product Management; and Product Manager Leigh Momii. The trio promised to “shed light on the software update process and everything that goes in to keeping our phones on the latest and greatest software.”
Commenters weren’t allowed to inquire about global devices or upcoming devices, nor were they allowed to ask for tech support. They also said nothing of the upcoming HTC M8, which is rumored to debut at Mobile World Congress. They did, however, ask plenty of questions pertaining to HTC’s role in the Android ecosystem, and the product team even cracked a few jokes in between answers.
We’ve extracted some of the highlights from the AMA for those of you who couldn’t join in, or who just want a quick “snackable” version of the two-and-a-half-hour affair.
What do you think HTC could add and contribute to the Nexus line (be it phone, tablet, etc.) and how would be different to what has come before?
Since the Android platform is part of the Open Handset Alliance, we’re able to share our feedback along with other Android contributors to the development of the platform. We think Sense is a premium experience that helps enhance the stock Android experience and we help evangelize that, regardless of what device Android will be running on. Historically Google has taken some of our innovations like calendars, unified inbox, and camera/gallery experiences and incorporated them into the stock software and we hope to continue leading that charge!
I think the quality of our devices say more than anything we could about what we could bring to the hardware side of any partnership.
Is HTC done with Windows Phone?
To say “done with Windows Phone” is a pretty blanket statement. I don’t think a company such as ourselves can ever say that point blank. As strong partners of Microsoft, we’re working with Microsoft on the Blue update on Windows Phone 8X and will continue to take new products into consideration. Nothing concrete right now, but who knows!
What is the biggest hurdle you guys have to overcome when coming out with a new update? Would you be able to come out with them quickly if it was entirely up to you, or are the carriers the ones slowing things down?
Good question. Here’s an infographic that we did recently that gives you an idea of the whole update process. Now, with the Dev Ed One and GPE One, we were able to crank those updates out pretty quickly. Certification for carriers includes 3rd party applications, network interoperability verification, etc...which can definitely take some time.
Why not show the strength of the making of the phone in your commercials? The diamond cutting and edging process shows value in buying HTC. Hiring RDJ must’ve been expensive.
[The manufacturing] videos [which you can see here] test[ed] poorly with a general consumer audience. We have to accomplish a couple of things in 30 second commercials: capture their attention, create brand recognition, and deliver a message.
That was the direction we took with the RDJ commercials: We needed to develop brand recall. And we found that many customers don’t remember “HTC” when they walk into a carrier store. That’s why we created images of “Hipster Troll Carwash” or “Hot Tea Catapult”...it’s about creating a mnemonic device for general customers. That way, when they walk into a carrier store, they saw out-loud “Oh, HTC...RDJ and those weird troll carwashes! I remember them!” Because they remember Apple. They remember Samsung. We need to do the same, but do it scrappier.
It seems the company has lost its focus since it started focusing on the interface. Any thought of returning to your roots?
Are you talking about returning to our ODM/white-label days where we make phones for other companies? We’d very much prefer to make our devices under our own name.
Has presenting users with an option of stock or Sense on the same device been considered? If so, what technical limitations are there to prevent it?
We have considered this, and the Developer Edition and Google Play Edition HTC One were direct results of listening to feedback from customers who wanted an option to be able to choose between stock and Sense. The GPe HTC One comes with stock Android and the Developer Edition HTC One comes with HTC Sense, and ROMs are available for both on HTCdev.com to be able to flash as you please.
As for other bits and pieces, HTC’s Leigh Mommi mentioned that Sense 6 will likely be modularized so that the company can easily send out software updates, without having it to pass through carrier approval. “The outlook is good for further improvements,” she added. Hopefully that’s the same optimism HTC has about its business.