HTC One launches via AT&T, Sprint, as smartphone maker charts comeback

HTC's flagship One smartphone, which the company is counting on to boost sales, launched today via AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and will soon be available from T-Mobile USA. HTC's market share in the United States has been under assault in the past year from both Samsung Electronics and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and the One launch comes just days ahead of Samsung's U.S. launch of its own flagship, the Galaxy S4.

T-Mobile HTC One

T-Mobile USA will begin selling the HTC One at the same time as the Samsung Galaxy S4.

The One will be available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Walmart, Target,, Costco, Car Toys, Sam's Club, and AT&T is selling the 32 GB variant of the One online and in retail stores for $199.99 with a two-year contract, and is also selling a 64 GB model for $299.99 with a two-year contract. Sprint is only selling the 32 GB variant of the One online and in retail stores for $199.99 with a two-year contract.

T-Mobile has started taking pre-orders for the One and is charging $99 up front with 24 monthly payments of $20 under its new no-contract pricing. Customers can also pay $579 for the full cost of the device. T-Mobile is also offering a free car dock with a purchase of the phone for limited time. T-Mobile plans to start selling the One in stores April 24, the same day as it will start selling the Galaxy S4.

HTC is banking on the One to help it revive sputtering sales. The Taiwanese smartphone maker said earlier this month its unaudited net profit for the first quarter was around $2.8 million, way down from the $148.1 million it reported in the year-ago quarter. The average of 19 analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for profit of around $19.9 million. HTC said total revenue for the quarter clocked in at $1.42 billion, down 37 percent from the year-ago period when it had $2.25 billion in sales. Analyst had expected $1.81 billion in revenue, according to Bloomberg.

According to ABI Research, HTC commanded just 1.3 percent of the global cell phone market at the end of last year with 28.2 million global shipments during 2012. 

The One is encased in an aluminum unibody shell and has a 4.7-inch full HD 1080p display, like the Droid DNA. The devices sports LTE and runs on 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.

The One has been well reviewed by technology blogs and consumer review sites. But HTC's biggest hurdle will likely be in marketing the One, especially compared to the Galaxy S4, which is expected to be marketed heavily by Samsung, a company with a larger marketing budget. The Galaxy S4 will go on sale in the next few weeks through seven U.S. carriers. (HTC has said the One will be available globally through more than 185 operators and major retailers in more than 80 regions and countries when all of its market rollouts are complete.)

HTC has promised to heavily market the One--the company said it will increase its digital marketing budget by 250 percent this year compared with 2012, and will increase its traditional media marketing spending by 100 percent. Already, HTC collaborated with Funny or Die on a comedic promo for the One that is a spoof of The Bachelorette, hosted by actor James Van Der Beek. Separately, HTC will host exclusive concerts produced by Live Nation with performances by Pharrell in New York and Grouplove in Chicago. The company said the audience will be limited to 1,000 fans, "creating an intimate, once-in-a-lifetime experience for attendees."

For more:
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this TMoNews article

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