The mid-range HTC One (M8) Mini is now rumoured for a May release, which is not in keeping with the timetable HTC set for itself in 2013.
Last year the mini version of the original HTC One (AKA the M7) hit shelves around five months after the flagship. The delay was unfortunate, because by then a lot of the M7 hype had died down, meaning that the One Mini didn’t sell particularly well, despite being a great mid-range device.
This time HTC may have learned from that mistake. 3g.co.uk reports that the One (M8) Mini is coming in May with a 4.5 inch screen and a single camera with no depth sensor. The same article sites its source as reliable, thanks to a previous leak that came true regarding the release date of the Xperia E1 in March.
Do Minis matter?
If true, this would be a very intelligent move for HTC. A big part of building brand awareness is getting people on-board early and keeping them. The entire Android ecosystem was built in part by providing buyers with affordable smartphones, so that when they could finally afford to go premium they were more familiar with Android than with iOS and subsequently more likely to shell out the big bucks with Android. Samsung did the same thing by flooding the market with cheap Samsung-branded smartphones until it finally took the Android crown.
If HTC can get its One (M8) Mini out before Samsung releases the Galaxy S5 Mini then it could go part-way in to securing some brand loyalty with folks who would have otherwise gone elsewhere. If the M8 Mini is a good phone then, in two years when their contracts are done, those users may be more comfortable sticking with HTC because it’s a familiar brand with which they are happy.
This isn’t going to completely change the game for HTC; that’s what phones like the One (M8) are for. It could be helpful in the long run, something which is interesting in itself. It's no secret that HTC hasn't been doing particularly well in its fight against Samsung, but this could indicate a new confidence in using a more long-term strategy.