Those who have been following HTC for a few years will easily recognize the name Peter Chou. As HTC’s CEO, Chou is known as a charismatic leader who mushed HTC to the forefront of the smartphone industry. Chou’s quick decision making and “obsessive eye for materials and hardware design” allowed HTC to be extremely nimble in the ever-evolving technology sector. This trait was exemplified when Chou sketched out plans for the launch of the highly acclaimed HTC Sensation XL (handset outline, price and launch date) only three months before the phone was announced – a feat which other manufacturers would need 18 months to complete.
While Peter Chou’s leadership is one of the reasons HTC dominated the smartphone market in the early days of Android, a new story from Reuters shows that Chou may be the one holding HTC back after the company lost significant market share over the past 18 months. Chou’s quick decisions helped greatly when there were no clear competitors to fight off. HTC was able to pump out a half dozen successful Android phones before Samsung, Sony, Motorola and LG even knew what was happening. But things changed. After multiple failures, HTC’s competition got a lot better and soon started to eat away at HTC’s dominating market share in the Android space.
With HTC expecting to post the company’s first loss at the end of Q3, dozens of former and current executives at HTC seem to agree that Peter Chou’s management style has led to the company’s decline. HTC may be able to bring a phone to market on a whim, but there appears to be no long-term strategy for HTC to stand up to its competitors and regain the market share that it has lost.
HTC’s new #change marketing campaign with Robert Downey Jr. may be the first step in the right direction. Rather than pushing a product, HTC is currently focused on increasing brand recognition. Something that’s desperately needed; more consumers can easily name off a few Galaxy phones, but have no idea that HTC is a smartphone manufacturer. Those who have seen HTC’s new ad are torn. Robert Downey, Jr. has a way of making the ads feel important, even though no one really gets what the ads are about.
Peter Chou may not be a visionary like Steve Jobs, but his charisma puts him head and shoulders above other CEOs in the mobile industry. Unfortunately, charisma isn’t enough to pull HTC back from the brink of failure. If HTC wants to succeed, Peter Chou needs to embrace the company’s #change mantra himself… or find someone else who can chart a path that will lead the company to new heights.
If you had the opportunity to implement one change at HTC, what would it be?