The Taiwan-based firm moved their focus from premium handsets to their virtual reality platform Vive, but their new leader has vowed to get the company back to being innovators of the smartphone.
Admitting to their failings, Maitre said at TechCrunch's Disrupt event: "People like Apple, like Samsung and, most recently, Huawei, have done an incredible job investing in their hardware.
"We didn't, because we have been investing in innovation on virtual reality.
"When I was young, somebody told me, 'to be be right at the wrong time is to be wrong and to be wrong at the right time is right.' I think we've been right at the wrong time and now we have to catch up. We made a timing mistake.
"It is a difficult mistake and we are paying for that, but we still have so many assets in terms of innovation, team and balance sheets that I feel we are recovering from the timing mistake."
Meanwhile, in August, HTC stopped their smartphones being sold in the UK amid a patent row.
The firm was locked in a dispute over "intellectual property" with the research and development company Ipcom.
It's believed HTC offered to sell their devices in the country but only with a workaround, and the Munich firm said that the workaround was not put in place.
As a result, HTC devices appeared as "out of stock" for people in the UK.
A spokeswoman for HTC said: "As a leading innovator, HTC takes intellectual property issues very seriously.
"We are proactively investigating an infringement claim by a third party with respect to a single handset model."