HTC launches smartphone with revamped software to take on Samsung

Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:11am EST
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By Paul Sandle and Clare Jim

LONDON/TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's HTC Corp has unveiled the new smartphone that it hopes will set it apart from the crowd of Google Android devices on the market and help it make up ground lost to Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc.

It has distinguished the phone, the HTC One, from rival Android devices by using new software - the BlinkFeed feature - to replace icons on the home screen with a personalized stream of news articles, social networking updates, photos and video.

HTC is also billing it as the first smartphone with a built-in remote control function, opening a window into a potential new business model for phone vendors and cable TV operators.

HTC is in discussions with cable operators in different countries, and hopes to offer a more interactive package for consumers by transforming the phone into a remote control for TVs, set-top boxes and receivers, according to analysts who attended a conference with HTC on Tuesday. The company declined to comment on whether it was in talks.

"The new TV connectivity feature inspires new imagination regarding how the smartphone and TV space may evolve," said CK Lu, an analyst for Gartner based in Taipei. "It allows for deep collaboration," he said.

Possibilities include co-developing apps and bundle-selling by smartphone makers and cable operators, Lu said, which would expand sales channels.

HTC was an early, and successful, maker of smartphones based on Android, but it has been eclipsed by the increasing dominance of Samsung, which Gartner said made more than 42 percent of Android smartphones in the fourth quarter.

Android is widening its lead in smartphone operating systems, with devices running the software capturing nearly 70 percent of the market last quarter, Gartner said last week.   Continued...

Guests use a sample phone at the launch of the HTC One smartphone in London February 19, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville