HTC focuses on innovation despite Windows Phone 7 restrictions

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HTC said that regardless of the tight control Microsoft is exerting over the user experience for its forthcoming Windows phone 7 smartphone platform, the company will continue to provide innovations like its Sense user interface.

Microsoft confirmed this week that HTC and Dell will be among the first to produce Windows Phone 7 devices, along with Asus, LG and Samsung. The company has said that it will have a tighter grip on the new platform than it has in the past with Windows Mobile, but an HTC executive said that the OEM plans on putting Sense on its Windows Phone 7 devices, due out in October.

"Microsoft has taken firmer control of the core experience [in Windows Phone 7], but we can still innovate," Drew Bamford, who heads HTC's user experience design team, told Forbes. Sense for Windows Phone 7 will not look like it does for Windows Mobile 6.5, but Bamford insisted HTC is optimistic about its ability to innovate. "We won't be able to replace as much of the core Windows Phone experience, but we will augment it," he said.

Windows Phone 7 is centralized around hubs for different aspects of a user's experience, including contacts, games, media and pictures. The way that HTC has deployed Sense for Windows Mobile and Google's Android platform and often changes the look and feel of much of the user interface focusing on integrating contacts and social networking feeds.

Google has hinted that for Android 3.0 it wants to streamline the user experience, but Bamford said he does not expect the next version of Android to hinder HTC's own work. "Google may focus more on improving the user interface on the stock Android [software], but I don't think they'll preclude manufacturer customization," he said.

In other HTC news, the company is considering opening an office in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina. Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) has also started building an office in the area, and the location was once home to a large contingent of Sony Ericsson staff members before closing late last year. An HTC spokeswoman declined to comment.

For more:
- see this Forbes article
- see this Engadget post
- see this Triangle Business Journal article

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