HTC press conference at Mobile World Congress 2010 – HTC’s kaizen

We gave up one-on-one briefing with Microsoft to be in this press conference. Did it pay off? What is the spirit at HTC after big announcement of Microsoft regarding Windows Phone 7 Series?

Well, we knew, that at Mobile World Congress 2010, employees of Microsoft anyway are not allowed to answer detailed questions about Windows Phone 7 Series, that was announced one day before, so we decided that it would be more interesting to drop by to HTC to see what’s up with HTC, instead of getting interview with Microsoft employee who couldn’t answer most questions because Microsoft is postponing release of full info till MIX conference or even later…

What’s up at HTC? Well, generally, we have a feeling that HTC has been reduced by Microsoft to one of many partners, instead of being a premium partner as before, and that HTC is more into Android these days than into Windows Mobile. Also the fact that Windows Phone 7 Series de facto forbids customizations it means that HTC can lose a lot of investment they did and still do into HTC Sense (formerly known as HTC TouchFLO). But let’s start it from the beginning, i.e. the place where this press conference was taking place:

On the other end (i.e. far away from the main entry between 2 towers) of the venue of Mobile World Congress, in Zone 4, HTC has rented a whole pavilion for itself and it was bigger than the one of the years bygone. There was a queue for that press conference too. The queue jumper from Microsoft’s press conference at Mobile World Congress 2010 was present here too and he was standing behind us and when we noticed that he tries to jump the queue again, we thought "oh no, not again this douche bag!", but in fact he just went to ask something and backed down.

Then HTC has started to let people in. We exchanged some British jokes about Slough with the doorman (who was a Brit of course) and we entered the building.

Generally this conference was for registered people only and the procedure was that the person inside was just checking if given person is on the list. When we entered the building and showed our badge, we
were waved in without checking on the list, as obviously we were recognized.

Then we were seated. We selected a place maximally close to the podium (we were sitting actually in 2nd row, directly behind Joshua Topolsky from Engadget) and in the middle – to take good photos from the tripod. Since we lost spare battery we were not video-recording this time. On the seat a HTC Hero -looking (i.e. with a chin) USB stick was awaiting us – with press materials in it – a smart move by HTC. Another smart move was providing by HTC an Internet access via their own WiFi, funnily enough, with SSID "quietly brilliant" – HTC’s current slogan. Good work HTC!

Peter Chou, HTC

The press conference was started with Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, who was speaking about the year bygone. In that year (i.e. 2009) HTC has launched the HTC Sense user interface for Android in an event in London. Also HTC Hero was launched there. We were participating in that Android-infested event, despite being Windows Mobile fanboys, because we hoped to get some freebie handset from HTC and to stay in touch with latest developments at HTC. In fact HTC later has launched HTC Sense for Windows Mobile so you get the drift…

Peter Chou, HTC

Interestingly Peter Chou mentioned that HTC wants to be one of 3 biggest cell phone manufacturers in the world. Wow, that’s a long way to go in total cell phone market share but in smartphone niche that might be realistic.

Peter Chou then introduced this guy, who was talking about improvements in HTC Sense:

… but seriously, we don’t remember who that guy was (some UI designer from HTC we reckon):

Then John Wang from HTC has entered the podium:

John Wang, HTC

John Wang from HTC was saying that HTC is announcing three new phones. He was telling about those phones things like:

– HTC Legend – the next generation of HTC Hero but made of one piece of aluminium – just like Apple Macbooks. To show how sturdy HTC Legend is, John Wang, was banging with it against the wall – a nice presentation technique that is close to our heart (if you listen to our podcast, you know what we mean).

– HTC Desire – or in other words a Nexus One but with HTC’s customizations (HTC Sense) and with decent optical mini-touchpad instead of nipple-like mini-trackball.

– and, finally, announced as latest, the mini-me of HTC smartphones – HTC HD mini or in other words low-end low-resolution (480×320) version of the gigantic HTC HD2.

John Wang, HTC

Obviously we don’t give a monkey about Android phones (good luck beating Nokia though, HTC guys!), therefore we were  more interested in what was saying about HTC HD mini and that was:

– it’s for people who like HTC HD2 but find it too big

– it’s beautiful also on the inside and to prove that yellow, naked version of this phone was shown

– it has nice big 4 screws on the backside

Then Florian Seiche, the boss of HTC Europe spoke too (this event took place in Europe after all):

Florian Seiche, HTC

… and generally Florian takes care that European mobile operators are buying HTC phones.

Florian Seiche, HTC

Then Patrick Chomet from Vodafone (European mobile operator) came to the podium and was speaking about the fact, that Vodafone will be offering all 3 new phones that HTC has just announced, in their network:

Patrick Chomet, Vodafone

After the speeches, that lasted roughly 25 minutes, press could play with newly announced handsets. Some nice HTC lady wanted to show to us some Android handset but we just shrugged and said "take away from us that Google-y thing, where is mini-me?"… and she pointed us in right direction where we were fiddling with mini-me (i.e. with HTC HD mini) both clothed and naked (i.e. without cover).

Finally, after handshake with Eric Lin from HTC USA, we have left the building.

* * * * *

Summary

Generally we had impression that Microsoft a little bit screwed HTC because in Windows Phone 7 Series such manufacturer customizations like HTC Sense are not allowed and Microsoft enforces their own, tile and hub -based, user interface.

In other words we had a feeling that customers might now be postponing purchase of HTC’s Windows Phones and waiting for 7 Series simply. It would be encouraging for customers if HTC could announce, that big boy (HTC HD2) and mini-me (HTC HD mini) will get official upgrade to Windows Phone 7 Series, but we guess that 7 is simply not ready yet because Microsoft is late (remember: 7 was being developed since 2006).

HTC is continuing its "kaizen" i.e. continuous improvement thingy and 3 new phones announced at this press conference were a good example of it. But to be honest much more innovation than just evolutionary improvement might be needed for HTC to succeed.

All in all it looks like HTC is a happy camper in their relationship with Google’s do-no-evil evil empire (note: Nexus One, Google’s flagship G-phone is manufactured by HTC) but when it comes to relationship of HTC with Microsoft we could sense (nice pun, heh? you gotta admit, innit?) some tensions. We had impression that HTC is not too happy that next version of Windows Mobile will not allow for HTC innovations on top of it. It’s like a husband telling wife, after many years of happiness, that a) he actually has more wives so she is not special, b) she cannot now buy clothes herself, but must wear this what what husband will buy her.

HTC Logo

Post by Edward,

Special Correspondent to Mobile World Congress for WMPoweruser.com

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