The iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS are the two top-selling phones in America. But don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re cool, says Martin Fichter, acting President of HTC America.
Speaking at the Mobile Future Forward conference in Seattle, Fichter — pictured above with bicycle — related a story about taking his daughter to Reed College in Portland, where he took an informal survey of her dormitory buddies. “None of them has an iPhone,” Fichter said, “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 manufacturer’s devices.”
Added Fichter: “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.”
HTC has been making some aggressive moves in the market of late. Currently, the manufacturer uses Android and Windows Phone 7 for its operating systems; earlier Monday, its CEO suggested in an interview that he was looking around for other mobile OS options, so that the company isn’t so reliant on software from Google or Microsoft; this despite the pro-Android stance that HTC took in the wake of the Google-Motorola deal. HTC has a smartphone market share of 9% and growing fast. At some Verizon stores, according to one poll, the HTC Thunderbolt has been outselling the iPhone 4.
Now comes Fichter, launching a broadside against one of the iPhone’s strongest defenses: the elusive sense of “cool.” It’s a risky strategy, especially given the anticipation swirling around the impending iPhone 5 launch. Presenting your daughter’s college dorm as representative of a wider trend, especially when the whole world is waiting for Apple’s next phone, seems a sure-fire route to ridicule.
On the other hand, Fichter has a point: iPhone owners tend to be older and more affluent, largely because their device is more expensive than the average Android equivalent. According to a recent infographic from recommendation engine Hunch, Android owners tend to have only a high school diploma and to be aged between 18 and 34 — the cool years, as far as most marketers are concerned.
Can HTC outmaneuver Apple by attempting to marginalize the iPhone? Or will the iPhone 5 launch blow that idea out of the water? Let us know what you think in the comments.