HTC has learned the hard way, that sometimes what sounds good on paper, doesn’t always translate into great sales. When the Taiwanese smartphone maker purchased 51% of Beats Audio for $300 million last year, bloggers and consumers alike were worried how that would related to a smartphone’s price. HTC immediately started to brand their certain devices with the Beats Audio “B” logo and packaged each once with a pair of Beats Audio earbuds. The last device to ship with Beats Audio earbuds was the HTC Rezound, on Verizon Wireless, which launched at $299.
Apparently, customers have shown very little interest in paying a premium for a headset that they don’t really want. HTC has finally recognized this and Martin Fichter, an HTC executive, had the following to say:
An accessory like the headphone doesn’t factor in when someone is buying a smartphone. If they want a Beats headphone, they’ll buy it directly.
The lack of customer response could be due to the fact that the initial impression is that earbuds aren’t as high-end as “over-the-ear” head phones, but the Beats Audio headphones ($199 and up) would have definitely driven up the cost considerably. So for right now, HTC will no longer be including free Beats Audio earbuds with any upcoming devices, including the HTC One series here in the States and the HTC EVO 4G LTE on Sprint.
By no longer including the free ear buds, HTC should be able to bring down prices on their devices, while at the same time, increasing their profit margins. But without including the free earbuds, you have to ask, what’s the point of having Beats Audio technology in a smartphone? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a device without Beats Audio that can retail for $199.99 or less and then incorporate Beats Audio and the free earbuds with a premium model for say $249 – $299? That’s just my two cents, but I just can understand why you’d market a smartphone with Beats Audio, only to have the customer use a pair of junky earbuds or headphones, it seems like it would cheapen the experience.
What do you all think?