HTC is currently sailing through a patch of rough seas, and it seems as though the company is starting to rethink its tablet strategy. According to a recent report from Bloomberg, HTC was planning to put together a 12-inch Windows RT tablet for release later this year before scrapping it due to cost and anemic overall demand for Windows RT.
That’s not to say that the beleaguered Taiwanese OEM is ditching Windows RT completely — there’s reportedly still a 7-inch RT tablet in the works, as well as another Android tablet. Bloomberg’s unnamed source goes on to note that demand for RT-powered tablets in general has been lackluster, so it made sense for HTC to pick its battles more carefully. After all, recent (albeit unconfirmed) Surface RT sales figures from back in March purport that Microsoft had only sold about a million units at the time — for a device meant to be the RT flagship, such numbers probably weighed heavily into the machinations of OEMs considering entering the RT fray.
Long time HTC watchers will know that focusing on a smaller number of quality devices is a tablet tactic the company has leaned on before. HTC’s recent history with tablets has been, well, pretty spotty. It’s first notable Android tablet in 2011 relied heavily on a smart stylus (a formula that Samsung would later turn into a winner) and just didn’t sell all that well, and its larger-screened followup saw similarly poor sales in the U.S. thanks to its incredibly high price tag — $699 with a contract. Clearly, things had to change.
HTC UK chief Phil Roberson said early last year that the company would be dialing back its focus on tablets, and true to his word HTC company spent much of 2012 trying to perfect its smartphone formula while facing ever-stiffer competition from rivals Samsung and Apple. Arguably the OEM has finally managed to hit its stride with the widely acclaimed One smartphone, but a single well-received device almost certainly won’t be enough to turn things around alone. It’s tough to say just how much of an impact a small Windows RT tablet will have on HTC’s flagging fortunes (I’m guessing it won’t move the needle much), but the company could use any boost it can get at this point. A quick look at HTC’s recently released fiscal Q1 2013 financials reveals a business that has definitely seen better days — it reported a mere $2.8 million in unaudited net income, down drastically from the year-ago quarter.