Design of the times – HTC loses second design chief in a year

27 Mar 2015

If there is one trend that is deciding who wins and loses in smartphones today it is design and for HTC, which appears to be finally getting its house in order, news that Jonah Becker is moving on must be daunting indeed.

Becker’s departure comes just 11 months after HTC’s long-time design chief Scott Croyle left HTC.

The news comes just as the stakes have never been higher for mobile devices. Apple’s Jony Ive fundamentally re-established the principles of good design in the mobile phone industry through consecutive iterations of the iPhone.

At Mobile World Congress this year, manufacturers including HTC, Samsung and LG focused heavily on design, emphasising materials, craftsmanship and other virtues.

It is necessary, because under the hood when you take aside processing power and batteries, all of the Android phone manufacturers’ devices do the exact same thing.

Repurposing HTC

HTC, however, has always tried to distance itself from the pack through good design, powerful hardware and attractive and clever user interfaces.

It is understood that Becker is to be replaced by creative director Daniel Hundt.

Becker joined HTC six years ago after the Taiwanese phone maker acquired One & Co.

The news comes a week after HTC revealed that chairwoman Cher Wang would take over the reins as CEO from Peter Chou.

HTC’s emergence as a manufacturer of own-branded devices began several years ago after the company spent much of its previous history as a contract manufacturer making devices for other brands.

Initially acclaimed, HTC found itself awash with a confusing array of devices before realigning and focusing its efforts primarily on the One series, beginning with the M7, the M8 and lately the M9. A larger M9 Plus has been rumoured as well as rumours of the next flagship device M10 coming with wireless charging.

In a statement HTC said: “We can confirm that Jonah Becker has left HTC; he had been with the Company since HTC acquired One & Co over six years ago. We would like to thank Jonah for his work with HTC, and wish him all the best in his future endeavours. He has been succeeded by Daniel Hundt, based in our San Francisco design office.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years