HTC jumping the shark –Leaving out features for no good reason

htc features We know HTC always makes the near perfect Windows Mobile phone.  Always however there is some little flaw or defect that makes you say … if only. We usually still end on buying it however, until the next generation comes out, correcting that one feature, but leaving out something else essential, often something present in the last unit.

We saw this recently with HTC’s landscape slider range.  First came the HTC Kaiser, with its amazing tilting screen but low QVGA resolution.  Next came the HTC Touch Pro, which corrects this grievous error, at the price of leaving out the much loved titling mechanism, and we lapped that up too.

The of course along comes HTC’s latest greatest, the HTC Rhodium or HTC Touch Pro 2.  It seems have the best of all worlds, the tilting screen, the WVGA screen, and what does HTC leave out?  The FM radio!

Now of course this is not a major feature at all, but as was recently discovered, HTC leaving out the FM radio was rather malicious, as simply replacing the radio software makes the device fully functional, meaning the hardware and antennas are all there.  It seems this software was simply left out as a marketing point.

Now this behaviour is points to only one particular thing – HTC is a monopoly. Now of course it can be questioned how a company with less than 1% of the cell phone market or 8% of the smartphone market can be a monopoly. But of course its not the whole cell phone world HTC dominates, but the small Windows Mobile part of it, of which HTC is thought to own a rather large part.

HTC’s practice of varying the features between each device and generation of devices to separate out buyers into groups (who can then be charged different prices for essentially the same product) is called Market Segmentation, and it tells us that HTC is actively not making the best device possible, but just doing enough to make you want to upgrade next generation. HTC’s main competitor is itself, which is rather incestuous.

We have seen this recently in another bugbear, 3.5mm headphone jacks.  Of HTC’s recent devices only the HTC Touch HD has a 3.5mm headphone jack, and HTC has publicly said they will only will only add this feature to select media-centric devices. Using a 5 cents cylinder of plastic and metal as a selling point for a $800 device is simply insulting.

This also explain the high unlocked prices of HTC’s smartphones, and also relative lack of features compared to similar devices from Nokia for example (in features, the N97 blows the Touch Pro 2 well away).

Knowing how HTC is maximising its revenue while minimizing user benefit, how do we respond? By definition as a monopoly the users do not have much choice of vendor. Options are limited.

1) Embarrass HTC into doing better. Not very likely, and the massive HTC Class Action suite driver-gate issue did not result in any real movement from the company.

2) Buy from other Windows Mobile OEM’s like Samsung when possible. Of course Samsung only dabbles in Windows Mobile, but its only when faced with real competition that HTC will make the best device possible.

Do our readers agree that we are in an exploitative relationship with HTC?  Let us know in the comments.

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