HTC unveils new smartphones, pushes into services

LONDON (Reuters) - Smartphone maker HTC Corp unveiled details on Wednesday of its push into the increasingly important mobile services sector and introduced two new handsets using Google’s Android operating software.

The launch came a day after Nokia, the world’s biggest cellphone maker, launched three new smartphones at its annual showcase conference in London.

Taiwan-based HTC -- which also uses Microsoft’s Windows operating system in its phones -- is battling for the position of fourth-largest smartphone maker with much larger cellphone maker Samsung Electronics.

Like many phonemakers, HTC has focused heavily on hardware development, somewhat missing out on the handset industry’s increasing focus on mobile online services and software.

“We’re excited to be taking the HTC Sense experience beyond the phone to a whole new level with a series of connected HTC services,” Chief Executive Peter Chou said in a statement.

HTC’s service offering -- which will come at no additional cost on its Android and Windows phones -- enables remote usage of cellphone services over the Internet and archives key content from the phone.

Through it consumers can also send texts from their computers and can track or wipe data from their lost phones.

“I think it is an interesting move but I wonder if this might upset Google as it offers an alternative to services such as maps,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

HTC’s mapping offering, built together with navigation software firm Route 66, enables the downloading of map data onto the cellphone - thus cutting data transfer costs for consumers.


HTC also unveiled its new Desire HD and Desire Z handsets at its media event in London, saying they would go on sale in time for the holiday sales in the fourth quarter.

The top-end model Desire HD uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor and comes with an 8 megapixel camera and a 4.3 inch screen -- one of the largest in the industry.

“The two new devices build on the highly successful Desire phone and take the fight into higher tiers of the market targeting Apple, Samsung and others,” said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.

Patrick Chomet, chief of terminals at Vodafone, said the operator will introduce the models across its markets.

The Taiwanese firm launched the services push and products in London at the same venue Nokia used to unveil its Ovi services strategy back in August 2007. So far Nokia’s services move has been mostly marked by failures, with only free navigation offering becoming the leading product on the market.

Nokia and HTC were battling fiercely for media attention in London this week, with HTC busses picking up journalists from the conference center where Nokia was holding its showcase event, and the Nokia team handing out Nokia-branded ‘survival’ packs for journalists entering the HTC news conference.

Editing by Greg Mahlich