HTC's sales drop 44% in February as Windows Phone does little to slow decline

Firm hoping for a hit with HTC One
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HTC reported that its February sales plunged 44 percent from the year-ago period, down to around $381.7 million, as the company awaits the launch of its new One smartphone, which it hopes will help reinvigorate sales. The weak showing is also an indication that the smartphone maker's emphasis on Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone in the fourth quarter and into the early part of 2013 has done little to help stanch the company's bleeding.

HTC One

Click here for pictures, videos, specs and more of the HTC One.

HTC's February sales were way down from the $685.8 million the company notched in the year-ago period, and marked the company's lowest monthly sales total in three years. The sales were also down 27 percent from HTC's January 2013 numbers.

The Taiwanese smartphone vendor made a major push in the fourth quarter around its two new Windows Phone 8 devices, the high-end 8X and the mid-range 8S. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA sold the 8X in the United States, and Verizon made the gadget a major part of its holiday advertising (HTC did not bring the 8S to the U.S. market). So far HTC's swing toward Windows Phone does not appear to have lifted the company's sales.

HTC sold 43.2 million phones in 2011, according to research firm Gartner, but the company saw sales slide in 2012 down to 32.1 million units amid intense competition from the likes of Samsung Electronics and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) at the high end and Huawei and ZTE at the lower end of the market.

To get back on track, HTC is turning to the Android-powered One, its latest flagship device. The One will be available globally through more than 185 operators and major retailers in more than 80 regions and countries beginning in March. AT&T, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile will be among HTC's U.S. carrier partners, but Verizon is noticeably absent.

The HTC One is encased in an aluminum unibody shell and has a 4.7-inch full HD 1080p display. The devices sports LTE and runs the latest Android Jelly Bean operating system. The One has a quad-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 600 processor, 2 GB of RAM, a 2,300 mAh battery and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

However, HTC is banking on software differentiation help it stand out from the crowd. Chief among HTC's new software efforts is BlinkFeed, which turns the device's home screen into a single live stream of personally relevant information that includes social updates, entertainment and lifestyle updates, news and photos. HTC will also focus on its BoomSound speaker and audio technology, which includes Beats audio technology. Additionally, HTC will focus heavily on the gadget's camera, which uses "UltraPixels" to let 300 percent more light into photos, and what it calls "Zoes," which turn a series of photos and videos into mini-movies that can be remixed and shared with friends.

At the Mobile World Congress trade show last week, Jason Mackenzie, HTC's president of global sales strategy, said the company will be more aggressive in its marketing. Mackenzie said HTC will have a national marketing footprint in the United States for the One but will also be very aggressive in certain markets, including Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. HTC will use that targeted approach in other countries as well.

HTC's One will likely face stiff competition  rom Samsung's Galaxy S IV, which Samsung will unveil in a March 14 event.

For more:
- see this CNET article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this ZDNet article

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