Galaxy S4 Leaves HTC Looking Down The Barrel

HTC executives made plenty of negative noises about Samsung's Galaxy S4 over the course of its launch and immediate post launch in New York. Citing its unique launch show, triumph of marketing and lack of design progress, HTC (and a number of industry commentators to be fair) suggested that the S4 launch left the One in a strong position.

They are very wrong.

The S4 marks a sign that Samsung have reached a new maturity, delivering Apple-sequence refinements to a great product, evolution without revolution. The changes that Samsung added will only make the S4 a more formidable choice in the market for anyone who doesn't want the bulk of the Note 2 or the limited environment of the iPhone 5.

The HTC One is almost certainly a better phone than the S4. However the One X was similarly better than the S3 and look how that panned out. HTC have gone big on their new camera technology and the advanced software that sits behind it. Zoe apart though Samsung has them matched in just about every key area.

So this is really a final hurrah for HTC. Either get the marketing and delivery right or sink without a trace. It's going to be an incredibly difficult task to achieve. Already there is talk of constrained supply due to the complex manufacturing process. Something that Samsung made mention of last week when defending its decision to stick with plastic for its phones - the ability to build quickly and build many fits the Samsung business ethic perfectly. By not having phones on the shelves HTC has already put itself in a position where buyers are now questioning whether they shouldn't wait and at least try the S4 instead.

And now, despite the bizarre launch event (which at least tried something different) Samsung are going to pour tens of millions of dollars into marketing the S4 - given their recent advertising positioning the S3 as the anti-iPhone I've no doubts that the S4 adverts will be similarly clever.

The next few months will be telling for HTC, if they fail to beat Samsung to Android buyers whilst also getting beaten in the Windows Phone game by Nokia then there seems little future for the company who invented the smartphone as we know it. If you don't see plenty of HTC Ones in people's hands, you'll know what it means.

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