Report: HTC to privately demo a smart watch at MWC

Smartphone maker HTC plans to privately demonstrate the first of its three planned wearable devices next week at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, according to a Bloomberg report.

The report, citing an unnamed source, said that HTC will show carriers a smart watch prototype based on Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Toq watch. Toq, unveiled last fall, can connect to Android devices via Bluetooth. HTC has no plans to unveil the device publicly, the report said.

HTC also is working on a watch that can access Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Now service, which acts as a personal assistant on newer Android devices, Bloomberg reported. Additionally, HTC is developing an electronic bracelet that plays music, though it may not demonstrate that or the Google Now device at MWC, the report.

An unnamed source told the Wall Street Journal last October that a Google Now watch could be "ready within months," as The Verge noted, but the report suggested Google would be likely to create the first such device on its own.

HTC declined to comment. However, HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang told Bloomberg that the company will release a wearable device by this year's Christmas shopping season after years of development and technical hurdles.

"Many years ago we started looking at smart watches and wearables, but we believe that we really have to solve the battery problems and the LCD light problems," she said. "These are customer-centric problems."

Wearables and smart watches are expected to boom in the years ahead, though the market is extremely nascent and uncertain at this point. Research firm Juniper Research has forecast that the retail revenue from smart wearable devices, including smart watches and glasses, will reach $19 billion by 2018 compared with $1.4 billion in 2013. Juniper also expects app-enabled smart watch shipments will reach 36 million per year by 2018, compared to just over 1 million this year.

Samsung Electronics is expected to unveil its next version of its Galaxy Gear smart watch next week at MWC, and wearables will likely be a focus at the show, just as they were at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

HTC reported a decline in revenue to $1.41 billion in the fourth quarter, but it did manage to notch a profit during the period of $10 million. However, HTC forecast continued declines in revenues in the first quarter, along with a net loss--results lower than analysts had expected.

The company plans on making less expensive smartphones this year in an effort to revive shrinking revenues. Additionally, while the company is expected to announce new devices at MWC, it has set plans for a March 25 unveiling of its next flagship phone, expected to be a successor to the HTC One.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this The Verge article

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