HTC has announced a new version of HTC Sense for superphones, with portrait and landscape orientation support, and specially coded for high-resolution displays like the 1024 x 600 panel on the HTC Flyer. It's part of what CEO Peter Chou describes as a transition in the mobile market to expected smartphone features: "nice-to-have has turned into must-have" he suggested at the tablet's launch.
HTC has announced a pair of Facebook phones at MWC 2011, two affordable Android devices with a focus on social networking. The first of the pair is the HTC ChaCha, a physical QWERTY handset paired with a 2.6-inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen, followed by the HTC Salsa, an all-touch version with a 3.4-inch touchscreen. Both the ChaCha and Salsa have a dedicated Facebook button, hard-coded to instantly share content like photos, music links or Facebook Places location links.
We were expecting an HTC tablet at MWC 2011, and boy has the company delivered. The HTC Flyer is a 7-inch Android slate based on a 1.5GHz Qualcomm single-core processor running Android 2.4 Gingerbread, with a new, refreshed version of HTC Sense. Oh, and just to really stir things up, it has a stylus.
HTC has announced the HTC Desire S, the successor to its wildly popular Desire smartphone. Set to go on sale in mid-Q2, the Desire S keeps the 1GHz processor of the original - now Qualcomm's single-core Snapdragon MSM8255 - and 3.7-inch WVGA touchscreen, but adopts HTC's unibody styling and gets Android 2.4 Gingerbread.
The HTC Wildfire S has made its official debut, the updated version of HTC's entry-level Android smartphone. Now running Android 2.4 Gingerbread, the Wildfire S loses some of its predecessor's bulk - as well as the optical trackpad - but gains a new, HVGA display that should boost compatibility with apps in the Android Market.
HTC has confirmed it will buy a $40m stake in OnLive, the streaming gaming company, the latest in the smartphone manufacturers investments and what looks to be the next step in repositioning as a content provider rather than merely offering hardware. According to HTC reps talking to the WSJ, the deal will "strengthen its gaming capabilities and help HTC tap into increasing demand for games on smartphones."
HTC's digital media ambitions continue to progress, with the company picking up investing in digital multimedia delivery specialists Saffron Digital. According to HTC CEO Peter Chou, the "ability to deliver optimised content in the future will be a key asset," and HTC will use the company's skills to "increase our global service delivery capabilities and expertise." The news follows suggestions that HTC saw its Sense experience spreading to the living room and other areas.
A new HTC trademark has prompted speculation about the company's software intentions for upcoming tablets, though the company could also be looking to better brand its overall ecosystem of devices. The EU trademark filing for "HTC Sensation" could be interpreted as an evolution of the existing HTC Sense interface and online services, perhaps tailored to tablets like the HTC Flyer.
Walmart has prematurely listed the HTC EVO Shift 4G, ahead of what we're guessing will be an announcement for the QWERTY slider at CES 2011 later this week. Confirmed as headed to Sprint complete with 4G WiMAX support, according to the listing the EVO Shift 4G has a 3.7-inch touchscreen, runs Android 2.2 Froyo and comes with an 8GB microSD card.
HTC is relying on Microsoft easing its modification limitations for Windows Phone 7 over time, expecting that its Sense interface will be able to gradually inject into the currently locked-down UI and functionality of the new smartphone platform. According to HTC's User Experience chief Drew Bamford, "we have a good relationship with Microsoft so we're continuing to work with them to figure out how to enable a Sense experience without breaking their model" however, HTC's "expectation is that we will be able to do more over time."
HTC has been fleshing out some of its ambitions for the HTC Sense system, as the platform continues to develop from a simple smartphone UI to a more comprehensive multimedia system. According to Drew Bamford, HTC's head of User Experience, "Sense has escaped the phone"; he envisages HTC using the platform as a way of "getting cool content onto phones", starting with ebooks as on the European Kobo-powered service, but then potentially extending the company's partnership with Netflix on Windows Phone 7. It's not just on phones, either; HTC is eyeing home electronics too.