HTC used to be everyone's favourite smartphone brand, in fact it isn't so long ago that the company came from nowhere to outsell the iPhone.
However, HTC has been in a death spiral for a number of years now, as it has struggled to hit the mark with a compelling device, burnt money on weak and confusing advertising campaigns and even managed to blow the opportunity presented by partnering with Google to deliver the Nexus 9 tablet.
It's difficult to remember a time when HTC last delivered a compelling device. Its unibody One flagship has been through four iterations without ever making a good argument for itself. The previous One X suffered from terrible overheating issues and was wildly outperformed by the Galaxy S3.
Perhaps the last HTC phones which could be considered class leading were the Desire and Desire HD.
Why is HTC on such a run of poor form? I suspect it isn't the devices. After all its flagships have been on the end of plenty of awards and they may have had flaws or annoyances, but no more than other, more successful flagships.
I don't think the problem is that HTC can't sell phones. I think the problem is that HTC can't sell HTC. Marketing has been poor and as a result potential customers are lost and existing customers not retained. Brand recognition is down and a HTC branded device offers no perceived kudos to its user.
Those failed advertising campaigns (basically everything the company has done since its 'You' campaign) didn't just fail to convert customers, it deterred them. It needs a high-quality, lengthy and expensive to restore its profile.
It just doesn't have the funding for such a thing. As a result contract manufacturing of devices like the Google Pixel are probably its only smartphone future.
As Apple has proved time and time again, success is not just about the product, it's also about the sell. Not having the sell is the problem that is killing HTC.