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HTC wants to be consumer Hero

The HTC Hero

Taiwanese handset vendor HTC has made the clearest indication yet that it sees its future as being a consumer brand as well as a supplier of white label or operator-specific handsets.

The firm reaffirmed its leadership in the Android handset space on Wednesday, with the launch of its third model based on the Google-backed operating system. The ‘Hero’ terminal offers the first glimpse at the HTC-developed user interface – dubbed ‘Sense’ – that the firm said will come loaded on all HTC handsets not affiliated to other brands, like the Google G1 unit or the Magic, which is an exclusive Vodafone product.

Speaking at the launch of both UI and handset, HTC CEO Peter Chou said: “Our strategy with HTC Sense is to allow us to differentiate ourselves, and also to build a closer relationship with people.”

Chou revealed that HTC has spent the last three years covertly developing a ‘specialist software team’ to sit alongside its hardware unit. This has brought hundreds of software engineers to the company, which specialises in Windows Mobile and now Android handsets, he said.

“Today we probably have the most Android and Windows Mobile developers outside of Google and Microsoft,” Chou said. “HTC has spent millions of man-hours developing a better HTC-branded software experience that makes all of this simple and engaging to customers.”

The Hero will not be available universally when it launches in Europe in July, with Chou revealing that France Telecom’s Orange and Deutsche Telekcom’s T-Mobile (which will be branding the phone as the G1 Touch) will be the first carriers to offer the device. This will be disappointing for O2 – recently left out of the N97 launch – which has expressed a desire to offer Android handsets in the past.

HTC is a handset vendor to watch. It has bet the farm thus far on the Windows and Android niches and established itself firmly within each. Earlier this year, HTC’s UK MD Dave Catt told telecoms.com that Windows Mobile remained the firm’s “core business”. But with some time remaining before the next iteration of Windows Mobile is made available, the Taiwanese vendor will be better able to demonstrate its software talents in the Android environment.


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