As I sit here at FF HQ in Austin, TX staring out the window, it is raining. The sky is dark like the evening even though it is only 3PM in the afternoon. A slow rumble of thunder can be heard in the distance, and all of these elements come together painting a somber picture. I can't help but think this must be what it is like to be working for HTC right now as I am about to share the latest news from them.
There are two new dark clouds gathering over the horizon for HTC. First, HTC is being assailed from the outside again. Nokia, now firmly in bed with Microsoft, has just filed to block the US import of the HTC One, claiming six new patent infringements added to the 44 it has already claimed against the beleaguered OEM. Here's a quick quote with some of the details,
This isn't the worst news for HTC right now, however. It seems the recent exodus of executives from the company is actually the least of their worries. According to the reputable and reliable blogger Sascha Pallenberg, who supposedly has insider information of the inner workings at HTC right now, the real problem at HTC is the large number of engineers and designers who have left for sunnier pastures. This has left the company hobbled and broken from within, and according to Pallenberg, HTC is now "in survival mode."The ITC legal attack sees six patents join the 44 Nokia has already claimed infringement of by HTC, and includes how internal components are arranged in a unibody device, how signal-to-noise ratio is handled in speech and data, and several elements to do with Google’s Android OS.
For instance, Nokia claims HTC infringes its patent on the video encoding/decoding with Android’s VP8 codec, something FOSS Patents suggests might even force Google to look instead to H.264 which may be more legally palatable. H.264 would involve royalties, but at least avoid wholesale import bans of the sort which Nokia is chasing.
“We began actions against HTC in 2012 to end the unauthorized use of our proprietary innovations and technologies” Nokia said in a statement on the newly added patent action. “Since then, despite the German courts confirming infringements of Nokia patents in HTC products, HTC has shown no intention to end its practices; instead it has tried to shift responsibility to its suppliers. We have therefore taken these further steps to hold HTC accountable for its actions.” ~ SlashGear
At this point it's hard not to feel sorry for the embattled former industry leader. At the same time that HTC's leadership is imploding over the failure of the HTC First (Facebook Phone), we find out there is also a mass departure of engineers and designers. On top of that, they are now getting hammered with more lawsuits designed to stop the sale of the only phone that can save them. It's like Nokia is still kicking an already defeated opponent.
It's amazing how quickly the sky can go from sunny to scary. The HTC One is selling very well and has hit 5 Million units shipped, but will that be enough for HTC to weather the storm?
Source: Google+ Sascha Pallenberg