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3/25/2013
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HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S 4: Launch Rivals

HTC delays U.S. launch of the One to late April, right when Samsung's Galaxy S 4 goes on sale. Can HTC's new marketing focus help the One stand out?

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HTC's executives are likely grinding their teeth in frustration at the supply chain problems delaying the launch of the struggling company's 2013 flagship smartphone, the One. Though HTC had already indicated the device's late March launch might be pushed back, it made a formal announcement detailing the device's pending availability.

"HTC has seen unprecedented demand for and interest in the new HTC One," the company said in a statement issued to media. "The new HTC One will roll out in the U.K., Germany and Taiwan [this week] and across Europe, North America and most of Asia-Pacific before the end of April. We appreciate our customers' patience, and believe that once they have the phone in their hands they will agree that it has been worth the wait."

Granted, a delay of several weeks isn't the most significant problem for the company to overcome. It could be worse. According to HTC, it has had trouble securing the camera parts and raw materials (aluminum) for the One. These have cut down on the number of Ones produced so far. HTC is playing it safe and waiting until it has a reasonable stock of the One for each market's launch. At least it is getting the parts and putting the phone together.

The delay doesn't help, though. Now HTC has to face the juggernaut known as Samsung head-on.

The One is scheduled to reach U.S. stores towards the end of April. That's right when the Galaxy S 4, Samsung's new 2013 flagship smartphone, goes on sale. Had HTC launched by the end of March as originally scheduled, it would have had about a month to get out in front of the Galaxy S 4. HTC no longer has that luxury. That means HTC's marketing efforts regarding the One need to be top-notch.

[ Want a sneak peak at Samsung's Galaxy S 4? See Samsung Galaxy S 4: Visual Tour. ]

HTC's chief marketing officer, Benjamin Ho, said that things are prepped to change. "We have a lot of innovations but we haven't been loud enough," Ho said to The Wall Street Journal. Ho didn't provide any specifics about how the company will move forward with its marketing efforts, but said they will be "bolder."

HTC was recently bold during the Galaxy S 4 launch event. The company's PR reps showed up at the event and pitched the One to journalists and fans waiting in line to see the Galaxy S 4's New York City debut. Ho also fired some direct shots at the new Samsung device.

"With a continuation of a plastic body and a larger screen being the most obvious physical change, Samsung's new Galaxy pales in comparison to the all-aluminum unibody HTC One. This is more of the same," said Ho. "HTC remains the best option for those people looking for the best technology wrapped in premium design. Our customers want something different from the mainstream. Our customers want original cutting-edge technology, mouth-watering design and a premium feel from their mobiles, which is why we created the HTC One."

HTC executives can talk smack about the competition to the media all they want. What the company really needs to do is to sell its products to Joe Public. It will get a chance to do just that in a few short weeks when the One goes on sale. We know that Samsung will pull out all the stops when it comes to marketing the Galaxy S 4. Can HTC's efforts match Samsung's? That remains to be seen.

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