HTC becomes a content player

HTC has been expanding its horizons well beyond its roots as a white label handset maker. It has added the Sense user interface (UI) and various web services to its portfolio, and now plans a full content offering.
 
The company has appointed a chief content officer, Shashi Fernando, to spearhead a move to replicate Apple's vertically integrated model, with plans to open the inevitable app store and push into content. The strategy first emerged last year when HTC started hiring content editors and talking about a store. Then, last month, it acquired mobile video firm Saffron Digital, which also brought its founder, Fernando, into the fold.
 
HTC looks set to create its own content and form a range of partnerships. While Apple is the role model, it will also have an eye on Samsung's increasingly well stocked video shop and, of course, the wide range of items in Google's and Amazon's Android and eBook stores. HTC knows that, like the Sense UI, a recognizable content portfolio will reinforce its brand and enable it to differentiate devices that are running on fairly standard components and operating systems.
 
As Amazon showed by opening its Android Appstore with a range of exclusive games and other products, one-off content - especially in gaming - will be an important differentiator in future.
 
HTC made a bigger splash at the CTIA Wireless show than it did at Mobile World Congress. While the launch of its first tablet, Flyer, at the Barcelona show was low key, it made more impact with two additions to its EVO range for Sprint's WiMAX service. One year after the US got its first WiMAX/CDMA handset, the HTC EVO, a 3D version made its debut, with no need for special glasses. There was also the EVO View 4G, a tablet that can run on Wi-Fi, WiMAX or CDMA EV-DO Rev A.
 
The vendor has learned a lesson from Apple, which basically stretched the iPhone user experience for the iPad. The same is true for the EVO tablet, which promises "to bring the best of the HTC EVO experience into a tablet design". That may not appeal to new customers in particular, but could persuade existing WiMAX subscribers to invest in another gadget.
 

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