Martin Fichter, HTC America's acting president, claims that Apple's iPhone is becoming too uncool for school.
"Apple is innovating. Samsung is innovating. We are innovating. Everybody is innovating. And everybody is doing different things for the end consumers. I brought my daughter back to college — she's down in Portland at Reed — and I talked to a few of the kids on her floor. And none of them has an iPhone because they told me: ‘My dad has an iPhone.'
"There's an interesting thing that's going on in the market. The iPhone becomes a little less cool than it was. They were carrying HTCs. They were carrying Samsungs. They were even carrying some Chinese manufacturers' devices. If you look at a college campus, MacBook Airs are cool. iPhones are not that cool anymore. We here are using iPhones, but our kids don't find them that cool anymore."
Also uncool, according to Fichter: patent lawsuits that are bogging down innovation by mobile companies. HTC and other Android phone makers have been defending against lawsuits from Apple, but also have been filing plenty of their own patent infringement suits. HTC, armed with fresh patents obtained from Google, filed a new infringement suit vs. Apple last week.
Meanwhile, it was Fichter's comments at Mobile Future Forward about the iPhone that had industry watchers scratching their heads: Tim Barribeau of EverythingiCafe commented: "Huh, really? Because last time I looked, iPhones and iPod Touches were still the device of choice among high school and college kids, helped along by Apple's aggressive and annual back-to-school sales."
Even if Fichter's contention that the iPhone is for old farts is correct, it should be noted that there are a lot of old farts around: After all, interest in iPhone 5 rumors is currently booming as expectations of an announcement within the next few weeks rise. Market watchers such as Comscore and Nielsen show Apple to own more than a quarter of the U.S. smartphone market.
HTC hasn't been backing down in the face of Apple or other competitors this year. Among other things, the company has been on a buying spree, acquiring at least six companies, most of which should enable improved consumption of content and sharing of content using its devices. HTC ranked fifth in the world in smartphone sales in Q2 and is on the rise. HTC has been a big backer of Google Android, but also has released new phones running the latest version of Microsoft Windows Phone 7 and has even been rumored to be sniffing around HP's shuttered webOS mobile operating system business.