HTC's 'Believe the Critics' Pitch Working for One M8 Sales

HTC's new marketing tactic is to get consumers to follow the advice of reviewers. In March, after 28 months of decline, its revenue grew.

Smartphone maker HTC continues to coax the public to listen to its peers.

"We can't make this stuff up," HTC said in a marketing email that went out April 7, showing mobile search results for "HTC One" packed with glowing reviews.

The message is the same in a new HTC television ad starring actor Gary Oldman, who in a very noir setting looks into the camera saying, "Blah, blah, blah."

Oldman finally explains, "It doesn't matter what I say, because the new HTC One is designed for people who form their own opinions. So go ahead, ask the Internet."

The ad is a 180-degree turn from last year's campaign starring a fake marketing guru played by Robert Downey Jr., and its logic may be a little wobbly (if you form your own opinions, why ask the Internet, or anyone?). But the idea is on point. While the world has been busy buying Samsung devices, reviewers have been calling HTC's smartphones some of the best available.

Boy Genius Report, for example, began its review by announcing: "The HTC One (M8) is the best Android phone the world has ever seen. Period. Full stop. Of this, there is no doubt. In many ways, in fact, it is the best smartphone the world has ever seen."

In the Wall Street Journal, Walt Mossberg interrupted his review of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 to suggest that people check out the HTC One M7 instead.

eWEEK also gave the older HTC One high marks.

"HTC must gain consumers' attention, and since it can't match Samsung's advertising firepower, it has to be creative," analyst Ken Hyers, with Strategy Analytics, told eWEEK.

By whatever means (there's also the fact the phone has a beautiful display, excellent speakers and is the first with dual back cameras, which feature unique, advanced technology), the M8 appears to already be helping HTC finally move the needle.

The Taiwan-based company on April 7 posted a first-quarter 2014 earnings loss of approximately $62 million—an even larger loss than analysts were expecting.

Still, after 28 consecutives months of decline, HTC announced that in March it saw its revenue rise, by 2 percent.

The HTC One M8 was introduced and became available from a limited number of carriers March 25, and so only a few days' worth of its sales contributed to the quarter, which closed March 31. By the end of April, it should be available from all four major U.S. carriers.

HTC said in a statement that it's expecting to see a "positive trajectory of its revenue" in April and quarter-on-quarter growth in the second quarter, "driven by strong demand for its new products, including [the] flagship One (M8) and [the] mid-tier flagship Desire 816."

Investment firm Barclays is also anticipating a strong 2014 for HTC. According to the Taipei Times, HTC is "aggressively" promoting the M8 in China, the world's largest smartphone market and one that favors local brands. Barclays is forecasting HTC shipments "at 23 million units this year, up 12 percent from last year," said the report.

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