During an industry insider event in Seattle on Friday, HTC revealed that it typically builds about 20 or more prototype phones as it begins its design process. Those prototypes aren’t cheap, either. According to Eric Lin, the company’s manager of product strategy, each phone costs between $2,000 and $5,000 to build.
HTC’s engineers first start with a raw rectangular block before giving the device to designers, which are “obsessive” in making sure the device has a unique flavor that will attract consumers. After that, HTC begins showing the device to focus groups in various colors and with slightly tweaked designs. “Imagine AT&T selling a red phone?” Lin remarked, noting that Verizon’s corporate color is indeed red (although AT&T has released several dark red BlackBerry smartphones in the past).
The phone then goes back to the design team, which takes all of the input from the focus groups and heads back to make any necessary tweaks. During this period HTC has already started talking to carriers and showing off prototypes, which the carrier often keeps.
Finally, HTC will then go back to focus groups with the semi-final design, make a final round of tweaks, and then release the phone to carriers and to in-house testing.
So the next time you love (or dislike) a phone, now you know a bit about the type of work that goes into building one.