The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that, this year, HTC expects to ship 600,000 to 700,000 units of the first smartphone based on Android operating system that’s due out this fall. Android is a software package built by Google and a number of other companies, a package that a lot of developers are super excited about.
HTC’s estimate is well above analysts’ estimates of 300,000 to 500,000 units sold. So who is right — HTC, or the analysts?
I tend to side with the analysts. Let’s examine HTC’s track record with other models. The handset maker shipped 1 million units of its Touch device in about six months of last year. It expects to sell 2 million Diamond handsets this year. That translates into sales of just under 170,000 units a month.
Assuming that the Dream comes out in late October/early November, HTC’s sales projections indicate that the company hopes to sell roughly double that number of the Dream per month. And that may be a bit much, though not completely unreasonable.
Sure, cell phone sales pick up, big time, during the holiday season, when they are much higher than monthly averages throughout the year. In the past, some handsets’ sales have shot through the roof: Apple’s calendar fourth-quarter sales doubled over the third quarter of 2007, but it’s an unusual case. Nokia’s 4Q, 2007 unit sales rose a healthy 20% over the third quarter. To me, that seems like a much more reasonable number.
So let’s assume that HTC manages to sell 20% more units in that time period than it sells of a typical model, in a typical month: That adds up to sales of 200,000 Dream devices per month during the holiday season. That brings us right into the mid-range of the analysts’ forecast: 400,000 units.
That said, I would expect the Dream to come in slightly higher. After all, Nokia’s sales are comprized of all sorts of phones. But smartphones such as the Dream are seeing much higher sales than feature phones, for instance. Besides, the first Android device is highly anticipated, at least among early adopters. And miracles do happen: Remember, Apple sold 1 million of iPhone 3G units in the first weekend of the device’s availability this July.
That said, while Android is well known in geeky circles, an average consumer has never heard of it yet. T-Mobile USA, the U.S.’s fourth-largest carrier that will introduce the device, can’t afford to spend as much on marketing new gadgets as its larger rivals, and may not be able to rev up interest in the Dream as quickly as, say, AT&T and Apple (Though, perhaps, Google could pitch in?).