Handset maker HTC is bleeding talent after the apparent failure of its latest high profile product.
Sources tell TheVerge that the company’s chief product officer is out after the HTC First, a smartphone developed in partnership with Facebook (FB) appears to have fallen flat with consumers. The CPO joins a number of top level executives to leave the struggling company in the last several months, including its global marketing manager, vice president of global communications, product strategy manager and director of digital marketing.
A source told TheVerge that senior level defections were growing because the company was in “utter freefall.” Some of the turnover may be the result of a decision to transfer strategic planning functions back to the company’s Taiwan headquarters. Other sources say that CEO Peter Chou is making rash decisions without a long term strategy to guide the company.
The HTC First, built around Facebook’s “Home” app for Google‘s (GOOG) Android operating system debuted in April. However, Facebook decided to make “Home” a free download for all Android phones the same week the HTC First was released. Less than a month later AT&T (T), its exclusive carrier, discounted the phone from $99.99 to just 99 cents, a sure sign that consumers weren’t interested in it.
Last week, rumors circulated that AT&T planned to dump the phone as soon as its promotional contract with HTC expires.