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10/21/2013
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HTC Preps 'Disruptive' Tablet, Wearables

HTC looks beyond smartphones to salvage its hardware business as its CEO drops responsibilities to focus on products.

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HTC firmly believes things will get better down the road. Just how far it has to travel to get there is a mystery, but HTC continues to move onward. HTC said that it is working on a new tablet and a wearable product that it hopes will support sales of its smartphones and breathe new life into the company.

Speaking to the Financial Times, HTC CEO Peter Chou and chairwoman Cher Wang said the wearable market is a "critical segment" for the company. Don't be fooled into thinking that HTC will rush a "version one" product to market. "[A smartwatch] has to meet a need; otherwise if it's just a gimmick or concept," said Chou, it won't make an impact on "people's day-to-day lives." In other words, the company isn't going to throw anything together hastily to respond to devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear, which has received lukewarm reviews.

HTC isn't rushing back into the tablet market, either. The last time HTC sold tablets was in 2011. It offered the Flyer, a seven-inch model that ran Google's Android operating system, and the JetStream, a larger Android tablet. Before today, HTC was believed to be working on a pair of tablets, one running Android and one running Windows RT. Now it appears there might be only one tablet from HTC. "When the tablet comes out it will be something nice and disruptive," said HTC's Wang. Wang didn't provide more detail about the device.

[ Will smartwatches replace Fitbits? Read Smartwatches Could Outshine Wearable Fitness Gadgets. ]

It's hard to imagine what HTC would bring to the table that's disruptive in the tablet market. Today's tablets come in sizes that range from seven to 10 inches and generally all offer one or two cameras, Wi-Fi, plenty of storage, solid battery life, and excellent portability. HTC has to meet all those key factors to compete at a base level. How it would go beyond these basics is unclear.

In order to bring its products to market, HTC is making some changes.

The company today confirmed that CEO Chou is reducing his responsibilities at the company in order to do what he does best: create good products. HTC's chairwoman, Wang, will assume some of Chou's responsibilities.

"At this crucial time, it is important for HTC to remain focused. That means that Peter is focusing on creating the best products and ensuring the best execution across the company. He has invited Cher to participate more in certain areas such as operations, sales and marketing. With Cher's involvement, Peter will have more time to focus on product innovation. Peter remains the CEO with full and final decision-making responsibilities."

HTC didn't say how long this arrangement will remain in place.

Chou has come under fire in recent months for the company's performance. Despite offering a solid lineup with its One, One Mini and One Max smartphones, the company's sales have continued to dwindle in the face of competition from Samsung, ZTE, Huawei and others. HTC recently reported its first-ever quarterly loss as a publicly-traded business and there have been calls for Chou's head.

Today's change might give Chou some reprieve, but now more than ever, he'll have to deliver excellent products.

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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
10/21/2013 | 8:45:52 PM
re: HTC Preps 'Disruptive' Tablet, Wearables
Any of you considering smartwatches now ? I think mini tablets may be the next gadget for many people -- before smartwatches.
rantsalot
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rantsalot,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2013 | 8:14:08 PM
re: HTC Preps 'Disruptive' Tablet, Wearables
The HTC Incredible was an excellent product for its time. From what I could see when I demoed an HTC One, it too is an excellent product. But having excellent products evidently is not enough today. People are more interested in the latest whiz-bang features, even if they haven't been fully tested. Companies that take the time to produce higher quality products are being ignored in favor of those winning the (buggy) feature race.
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