Smart or desperate?

Speaking to Walt Mossberg at D11 this morning, Googles Sundar Pichai offered glorious news for anyone who loves the HTC One but craves an untouched Android experience: he confirmed that there is indeed a stock Android 4.2.2 version of the flagship device One coming, and it will be fully unlocked for T-Mobile and AT&T at the solid price of $599.

via Engadget.

I was one of those calling for a company like HTC (and in fact, HTC specifically) to start producing stock android when I wrote about the HTC One a few months ago.  Now they’ve done it, I’m not sure how I feel.  It has a feel of desperation about it, despite being a smart move.  This feels like a reaction to something (almost certainly sales numbers) as opposed to a long planned strategic move.

On the one hand it’s the only Android phone I would actually consider buying.  On the other, what does this mean for HTC and all the promises they made when the HTC One launched? Remember:

The One debuts HTC’s new Android software overhaul, which is named Sense 5. Aside from a simplification of the visual style, the biggest change in the new user interface is something called BlinkFeed — a Flipboard-like aggregator for news, information, and social feeds that will serve as your new homescreen.

It didn’t last long.  It’s also worth remembering that all the marketing around the One has been focused entirely on BlinkFeed.  The phone isn’t the hero, the BlinkFeed skin is.  Not any more, clearly.

Nilay Patel on The Verge:

Of course, the big question with running stock on the One is how HTC’s unique hardware features will work without its software

Apparently Google will be handling updates to this device, which makes you wonder how they’re handing HTC’s baffling button layout and UI options (the home button being on the right, double tap for recent apps and a long press for now)?  The most interesting bit of news?

HTC also provided another interesting tidbit: it’s currently “examining the best way to support early adopters of the One” that may prefer the stock Android experience over Sense, perhaps by way of an AOSP ROM.


It’s amazing to think that an emerging unique selling point for Android phones is not ruining the experience with an OS skin that you think provides a unique selling point.