OK HTC, you've made a great phone - now actually sell the damn thing

OK HTC, you've made a great phone - now actually sell the damn thing
"Did you know we're made of metal? You didn't?"

It's indicative of how little impact HTC's campaign with Robert Downey Jr had that I could only remember one of the things he used the brands letters to spell.

Hipster Troll Carwash, H-something Tinfoil Catamaran… that's it. This was HTC trying to convey it was a 'fun' and 'alternative' brand against the likes of Apple and Samsung when really it should have been ramming all its resources into making its flagship handset a success.

The HTC One was a game-changing phone, not just for the brand but for the smartphone market as a whole. Apple had previously has the design segment sewn up, but here was HTC showing that it could take Android, skin it in an attractive way and put it in a chassis that nearly everyone I showed it to adored.

I feel for the brand that, like so many of the others, is filled with talented people making a phone people will actually enjoy. The task of making a decent handset is done, and it's over to whoever is in charge of selling the thing to seal the deal.

And yet all we see is RDJ shrugging with some tiny green people wearing glasses. It's the equivalent of Mercedes launching a new high end saloon by filling it with clowns and having all the wheels fall off.

That car analogy is one that HTC needs to adhere to if it's going to gain any traction with the new One (M8). This is a phone that takes that design message on further, and it's really something to behold.

This is the Mercedes of the phone world, the first feel evoking the same kind of quiet wonder when you slide behind the wheel of the latest high-end vehicle.

HTC needs to communicate this to the world. It needs to find a way to show people a phone that they must hold instead of upgrading to whatever phone the person at their network warbles about. ('Yeah, it's got a good camera…and some apps… shall I put that through for you?').

What's more frustrating is that I've seen the videos of the construction process for these phones. The One S' satellite-level chassis created by millions of tiny lightning strikes, the One being hewn from a single block of aluminium by a ballet of cutting robots.

These are the things consumers need to see, not Iron Man without the suit.

The early signs are mildly encouraging – sure, it's gone down the celebrity route with Gary Oldman, but at least HTC has put him in a more evocative scene, highlighted the premium prowess of the One (M8), used a darkened room with a shining city in the background, and challenged viewers to ask online peers to see whether it's a good phone.

It's a ballsy approach, and one backed up by a promotional launch videos of One (M8) showing a premium phone being slipped together like a suave Transformer.

A high-selling flagship phone isn't the silver bullet HTC needs to recover from its sliding financial position – I've not even touched on the fact it's lost traction in the all-important low-end Android market, a place it once was so dominant with the likes of the Wildfire a few years ago.

HTC needs to do more than make a phone that can go toe-to-toe with Apple and Samsung – and win. It has to show the world, convincingly, that it can do so, and it needs to somehow work out a way to do it with a fraction of the marketing budget of its rivals.

Any place you can buy the Galaxy S5, you'll be able to buy the One (M8), and you need to make consumers savvy enough to ignore the shop assistant hawking whichever phone will get them the most commission.

Relegate RDJ to making viral videos with skateboarding unicorns, give the world smartphone lust with hard hitting, experiential advertising, and start to make those with the cash to actually buy the phone feel like it's the only option in a congested market.

Here's To actual Change, HTC.

Here's what we make of One (M8):

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.