HTC scars an otherwise attractive phone with nonsense branding
HTC today announced the new HTC One, an aluminum-clad Android smartphone that boasts an updated camera, a 1080p display, and a new version of the company's Sense software for Android. The device will be available in late March on 185 carriers -- including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the US -- and, frankly, seems to be one of the most appealing Android devices on the market.
If only HTC hadn't marred its new flagship device with so many nonsensical buzzwords and jargon-y bullshit that it sounds like a device made for children.
BoomSound. UltraPixel. BlinkFeed. HTC Zoe. Those are the real, ready-for-commercial names for the HTC One's updated speaker and microphone system, camera, Flipboard-esque homescreen, and "We swear it isn't Vine" short-form video files. The first three sound like they were dreamt up by a toddler with an MBA, and the last doesn't make a lick of sense.
The features themselves are appealing, at least on paper. BoomSound promises stronger noise cancellation, a responsive volume setting that will adjust sound levels to accomodate for noisy surroundings, and "head-on" output that will finally allow consumers to blare "You Only Live Once" by the Lonely Island without the tinny sound associated with smartphone speakers. UltraPixel improves the camera -- always a plus, though typically a given with a new device. BlinkFeed and HTC Zoe are riskier, as they replace the typical smartphone experience with a different experience or rely on a proprietary file format, but worth noting.
Giving each of these features such odd, childish names is pandering, plain and simple. One can almost imagine the HTC board sitting around the table wondering whether consumers would be smart enough to understand "better speakers" and "an improved camera." As a friend on Twitter asked: " Did a focus group of six-year-olds come up with these names?"
Names matter. That's why Apple's "iWhatever" branding is so successful: It combines a single indicator that you're dealing with an Apple product with a one-word explanation of what the product is. iCloud puts your stuff in the cloud. iTunes has your music. The iBookstore sells you books. Simple, understandable, and, most importantly, elegant. "BoomSound" is simple, sure, but it's also the kind of thing that makes people embarrassed to talk about their devices.
The HTC One is an exciting device. It's one of the few Android devices that screams "premium" and eschews plastic for aluminum. It's got an ultra-high-resolution display, promises a great camera, and represents a leap forward for HTC, which is struggling to stay afloat in a smartphone market dominated by Apple and Samsung.
None of that changes the fact that anyone reading its feature list or talking to a salesman will have to stifle laughter at every turn. HTC took a proud device and saddled it with juvenile names, and now what should be a flagship Android device is quite literally a laughing stock.