The past few years haven't been so great for HTC's phone-making division. The company has slowly been fading from the spotlight because people seem to have stopped buying its devices, not the mention the increased competition from companies that have been rising up the popularity league tables. So when you hear speculation that the company will stop making its own phones, it doesn't sound like the most unlikely thing in the world.
But that doesn't necessarily mean the end of HTC devices. According to repeated HTC-leaker @LlabTooFeR the company is instead looking to switch to an ODM model that would see another company handle the hardware and release it under the HTC name. If this leak is correct this could start with the U12 Life, a mid-range follow-up to the U12+, currently expected to arrive before the end of the year.
Imagine Life (Allegedly U12 Life) will be shipped with Android 8.1 on board.
Interesting fact about it, this device will be ODM manufactured...
— LlabTooFeR (@LlabTooFeR) August 13, 2018
The ODM-based sales model isn't that unheard of these days, so this isn't exactly a new idea. Both Nokia and BlackBerry have handed over phone manufacturing to other companies, who are then able to release phones under their respective brand banners. Since HTC has been struggling to compete with other smartphone manufacturers, this change would be a move that could let it focus on other, more lucrative areas. Areas like VR, for example. That's not so good for HTC's employees, though, whose livelihood depends on the company making its own kit.
Ubergizmo claims that the U12 Life is the only device that's being considered for the ODM method, but if that works out better for HTC than doing everything itself you can bet that it'll expand those efforts in the future. It's still a rumour for the time being, and we can't be certain it's definitely going to be happening until HTC says so. My guess is that we won't get that until the U12 Life is officially launched, so there might be a bit of a wait. [Ubergizmo]