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HTC could return to premium smartphones, says new CEO

HTC, once the trailblazer in Android smartphone innovation, has gradually moved away from the forefront of design thanks to a combination of focus on its Vive virtual reality platform, and the loss of much of its phone talent to Google. But it will soon be ready to return, according to the company’s new CEO Yves Maitre.

Maitre, who replaced Cher Wang at the head of the company just two weeks ago, was drafted in to stand in for his predecessor at TechCrunch’s Disrupt event. On stage there, he said that the company would look at premium handsets with “best-in-class hardware and photography” for “countries with higher GDP” in the future.

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Maitre was also reasonably candid about the company’s failings to date – something that’s easier to do when you’re a new face just two weeks on the job, of course. The company, he said, had failed to innovate on smartphone hardware, and had paid the price. “People like Apple, like Samsung and, most recently, Huawei, have done an incredible job investing in their hardware,” he explained. “We didn’t, because we have been investing in innovation on virtual reality.

When I was young, somebody told me, ‘to be be right at the wrong time is to be wrong and to be wrong at the right time is right.’ I think we’ve been right at the wrong time and now we have to catch up. We made a timing mistake.”

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“It is a difficult mistake and we are paying for that, but we still have so many assets in terms of innovation, team and balance sheets that I feel we are recovering from the timing mistake.” 

HTC wasn’t completely out of the smartphone game, but its output had certainly slowed in recent months, with a focus on the midrange. Back in June, the company unveiled the U19e and U19 Plus powered by Snapdragon 710 and MediaTek P35 processors, respectively. By the sounds of it, we can expect something more ambitious from the company in the not-so-distant future.

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