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HTC to re-bone Android?

Peter Chou, chief executive of HTC, had previously said he saw “little value” in HTC running its own application store. But he has also said that it was no longer enough for HTC to simply customise the standard Android user interface with its own “skin”: “It is not enough to be skin-deep. We need to go bone-deep.”

via FT.com / Technology – HTC to target online app store.

HTC was the world’s biggest Windows Mobile vendor, at one time claiming to have sold over 80% of all WinMo phones ever made.

I always considered them to be the natural leaders in the Android licensing cohort. First, because they are the most agile and second because they had the operator relationships that allowed white-label operator phones.

HTC aspired to differentiate itself by “skinning” Windows Mobile and have carried their Sense UI over to Android offering a brand image distinct from competitors.  However, HTC’s branded strategy may have upset their operator partnerships (no evidence of this, just hypothesis). In the event, HTC, though prosperous, is not the largest single Android vendor.

Now the comment above from Peter Chou indicates that HTC is going to integrate the experience further. Building its own APIs, store and perhaps more. Not satisfied with “re-skinning” perhaps it will “re-bone” as well.

Going “bone-deep” sounds a lot more integrated and inter-dependent than modular to me.

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  • Pat S

    Wonder if this is a result of the re-release of Win Mobile. HTC will now have basically the same phone hardware with two competing OS. Will the HTC brand be lost behind the OS they serve? In theory they could build a store which serves up the correct version of an app across OS platform. A difficult task in reality, but if a developer offers a version for both OS then its possible to build some brand identity across the OS. Maybe they build a cross platform API, like Flash ;) to layer on top of the OS, think of how this increases battery life. I will watch with interest as all the device manufactures who abandoned Mr Softie, feel the pressure to return to the mothership.

  • joe c

    So how much customization does the new WIndows Mobile 7 allow by the carriers? Any?

  • famousringo

    The fragmentation deepens.

    I wonder if Google is willing to cut their most important hardware partner off at the knees. Probably. Plenty of other manufacturers where that came from.

  • Iphoned

    Others manage to take control of the unguided middle?

  • Iphoned

    Can’t wait till they replace all Google services with Movrosoft’s

  • timnash

    HTC has to find a way of adding enough value. When it was making 80% of WinMo phones it was effectively the Foxconn for that niche. It handled the handset design as well as the manufacturing. With Android, the vendors don't need HTC's UI skin and it's cheaper to go to Foxconn or one of the other contract manufacturers.

  • kevin

    Partly because of Samsung's own vertical integration (chips, displays, memory, etc), I think it can beat any of the Android-based phone makers on production cost, so it can offer carriers/consumers a better price on the same hardware/Android product. When Samsung arrives in their markets. the other Android vendors (HTC, Motorola, SonyEricsson, etc) will have to differentiate and offer greater value without adding extra cost, or accept lower margins and profits. They must be shocked at the speed at which Samsung overtook all of them in smartphone sales, once it got serious about smartphones, starting at the beginning of 2010.

    At one end, they are getting squeezed by Samsung who is willing and able to compete on price for the same product. At the high end, where innovation is required in order to ask for higher prices from carriers/consumers, they don't have control over Android/Android SDK/Marketplace software direction or release timetable, and thus are unable to take on Apple in a capabilities-battle since that relies heavily on software for the rich user experience expected by those higher-paying consumers.

    • Rob Scott

      You might be correct re – Samsung, but currently they are not passing that benefit to customers. Galaxy S is priced similarly to Motorola or HTC smartphones. But to your point they might be taking in more profit.

      • kevin

        Agreed, but Samsung could be passing the difference to carriers, in exchange for more "shelf-space" – i.e. better promotion. I'm with AT&T (due to iPhone) and have gotten three mailings from AT&T in the last month, and Samsung phones, including Captivate, were prominent. BB Torch was buried on an interior page; HTC Aria and iPhone left out.

  • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

    If they're going to do anything 'bone-deep' then I would hope it's to fix the awful OpenGL performance so that game developers can actually get decent speed out of the handsets and so that they can get a faster UI without the need for power sapping CPUs or huge batteries.

    I ran this OpenGL benchmark test a while ago to compare Nokia's £300 C7 with the superphones and I'm just staggered at how badly the HTC Desire does…
    http://www.glbenchmark.com/compare.jsp?benchmark=

    Nokia's C6-01 (about £200) has the same CPU/GPU so that'll equally trounce the HTCs.