HTC explains why it dumped Qualcomm for Nvidia in non-LTE One X smartphones

BARCELONA, Spain--HTC broke with Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), historically its strongest chipset supplier, and went with Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 silicon for the non-LTE variants of its flagship One X smartphone because Nvidia's solution is the most powerful one on the market right now, a senior HTC executive said. The news coincided with the release by HTC of its new "One" range of smartphones. Click here for that story.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Jason Mackenzie, HTC's president of global sales and marketing, said that the decision to add the Nvidia chip was about "picking the best solution that's available," for power, speed and performance.

Nvidia has been touting its Tegra 3 solution as a premier chipset and is highlighting its design wins here at Mobile World Congress this week. The chipset uses up to four cores and powers them up progressively to handle intensive tasks like displaying HD video while relying on a fifth companion core for less intensive tasks such as checking email and keeping the phone in standby mode, thus saving power. Mackenzie said that it is possible HTC may use Nvidia chipsets in future products, explaining that HTC will go with "whatever is the right, best solution for the product," whether it's from Qualcomm or Nvidia.

Despite the addition of Nvidia as a new silicon supplier, Mackenzie stressed that HTC still has a "very deep" relationship with Qualcomm. "We don't expect it to slow down or go in a new direction," he said, adding that  the inclusion of Tegra 3 does not mean HTC will "wean off" Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors. He said the reason Qualcomm is supplying the chipset for the LTE versions of the One X is that there their currently is no integrated quad-core LTE solution, and Qualcomm could deliver the LTE chipset. In a separate roundtable discussion with reporters, Kouji Kodera, HTC's chief product officer, said that HTC went with Qualcomm for the LTE variants because it needed to get the products to market as soon as possible. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile Germany will be among the first carriers to launch the LTE version, but Mackenzie noted that most of the world still has not launched LTE yet.  

Mackenzie reiterated a point other HTC executives have said, noting HTC will be "disciplined" about cutting down the number of models in its portfolio in general this year and for the One series in particular. "The HTC One brand has to stand for something," he said, adding that right now that means a great camera and music experience and high-end design. He said that HTC will be focusing its advertising on the One brand to "build equity" in the brand and capture the mindshare of consumers. Kodera said that One series products are going to be mid- to high-end products mainly and that more phones may be added to the product family later on this year.

And what about Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone, since all of the One series smartphones run the Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform? Mackenzie said the company's relationship with Microsoft is "part of who we are," noting the company's long history of supporting Windows Mobile. He said HTC is "committed and invested" in building the platform, and that he does not view Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) partnership with Microsoft as a negative development for HTC, adding that HTC is confident in its own product design and execution.

For more:
- see this FierceWireless article on HTC's new MWC phones.

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