It is no secret that HTC is keen to move beyond hardware manufacturing to online services and content – it had earlier acquired or partnered with, variously, a games provider (OnLive), a mobile video specialist (Saffron Digital), an e-books company (Kobo), and a music streaming service (Taiwan’s KKBox).
But its ambitions may range further still. Cher Wang, HTC chairwoman, recently revealed for the first time that the Taiwanese smartphone maker had considered acquiring a mobile operating platform.
In an interview with China’s Economic Observer, Ms Wang said HTC had “conducted internal discussions [on acquiring a mobile operating system] but we would not make such a decision rashly”.
She did not name which operating platform HTC had considered acquiring, but explained that the rationale for making such a move would be that “as a technology company, you need to get to the source of what you are working on. The operating system is therefore very important for a handset company and one reason why it is not easy to make smartphones is because you need to have a complete understanding of the operating system”.
But before anyone gets too excited about the possibility of HTC abandoning Android or Windows, Ms Wang followed up by saying that “we do not necessarily need to be in the operating system business . . . now we can use whichever operating system we want to use, and still create unique products by innovating on the second or third level of the platform” – in other words, by customising Android and providing various HTC-owned content and services on it.
She also expressed confidence that neither Google-Motorola nor Microsoft-Nokia would follow Apple in creating a vertically-integrated, ‘closed’ system that favours only one manufacturer.
So with news emerging that Google is helping HTC in its legal battles against Apple by transferring patents over to the smartphone company, it seems despite Ms Wang’s comments that the two companies are only going to move closer together, rather than further apart.