It’s no secret. HTC’s future – along with the job of its CEO – is riding on the success of its flagship phone, the HTC One. With recent reports saying that the company is in a “freefall” while losing top staff, things weren't looking so hot. But there may be hope yet, as HTC has reportedly sold around half as many Ones as Samsung has sold Galaxy S4s. That might sound like bad news for HTC, but those are actually promising figures.

First, those numbers. A few days ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung had sold around ten million Galaxy S4s in almost a month. Nothing unexpected there: typical, lofty Samsung results. But today, the WSJ also reports that HTC has sold around five million Ones in its first month ... this despite some supply constraints that have the company still catching up with demand.

It's all relative

When does your opponent doubling your sales count as a good thing? When your opponent is Samsung, that’s when.

In 2012, HTC also had a high quality, well-reviewed smartphone, in the One X. But by the end of the year, Samsung had sold roughly six to seven times as many Galaxy S3s as HTC sold One Xs.

This early (and very unofficial) 2:1 ratio in the 2013 version of that battle is looking like one hell of an improvement.

These numbers also beat some analysts’ predictions. Just last month, CK Cheng of CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets saw HTC moving 3.5 million Ones in Q2. So five million before the quarter is finished? Maybe CEO Peter Chou will keep his job after all.

Early in the game

Of course these figures aren't official, and they only reflect the first month of sales. The year is long, and HTC will need to sustain this momentum against a deep-pocketed Samsung marketing machine (and, eventually, a new iPhone). The scale could also tip a bit further in Samsung’s favor, as the GS4 just launched on Verizon, the largest carrier in the US. Verizon hasn’t announced any plans to carry the One.

But you know what? When your company has hit hard times, even approaching half the sales of the biggest kid on the block is something to hang your hat on.

As we opined the other day, HTC is still a key player in the Android field. The success of the One (and, by association, the entire company) could have a direct impact on customer choice in the smartphone market. This is a plotline worth keeping an eye on.

Sources: Wall Street Journal [1] [2]