HTC Crashes Samsung Galaxy S 4 Event

HTC shows up at Samsung's Galaxy S 4 launch party to pitch the One and do a little trash-talking.
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What better way to earn some free press than to show up at your biggest competitor's product introduction and hand out hot cocoa?

That's what HTC did Thursday night outside the Samsung Galaxy S 4 event in New York City.

While attendees waited in long lines outside in the cold, bitter wind, HTC representatives wearing bright "HTC One" shirts handed out promotional materials for the company's newest smartphone, the HTC One, and even had some warm beverages on hand.

It was a smart -- and familiar -- move on HTC's part. HTC has pulled this stunt at least twice in the past, both during Nokia events in London. The company doesn't have the marketing budget Samsung has, so it needs to take its message to the masses guerrilla-style. (Samsung spent more than $400 million marketing devices such as the Galaxy S III and Note II during 2012.)

[ HTC is counting on a hit with the One. Read For HTC, The One Can't Come Soon Enough. ]

Later, one of HTC's official Twitter accounts began to spew snarky comments about the event, including: " off-Broadway is this production? #theNextBigFlop #HTCOne"

Leaving no stone unturned, chief marketing officer Benjamin Ho fired a shot at the Galaxy S 4 directly. "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." True enough, the Galaxy S 4 looks almost identical to the Galaxy S III; there are few obvious physical differences between the two devices.

"HTC remains the best option for those people looking for the best technology wrapped in premium design," continued Ho. "Our customers want something different from the mainstream, who appear to be the target for the Galaxy. 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."

Ho wasn't the only HTC'er trash-talking Samsung. HTC president Jason MacKenzie said of the event to CNET, "I went from laughing to actually feeling embarrassed at some of the acting. Watching the presentation, it looks like they invested a lot in marketing instead of innovation."

HTC is the underdog in this relationship, and is outmatched by the behemoth that is Samsung. HTC's fortunes have shrunk alongside its market share, much of which it ceded to Samsung and its "more- of-the-same" Galaxy devices.

Soon enough, consumers will have a chance to vote with their wallets on which device they prefer. The HTC One goes on sale in the U.S. beginning in April. The Galaxy S 4 reaches the U.S. in late April or early May.

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