High Tech Computer on Tuesday launched a more powerful version of its popular Touch smartphone, hoping to lure consumers from better-known rivals such as Apple's iPhone.
The Touch Diamond, which supports carriers' 3G broadband-like networks, includes features that focus on Web browsing and checking e-mail. The device, which runs on Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, includes a 2.8-inch VGA touch screen that the company claims provides near-print-quality viewing.
The smartphone's Web browser can zoom and pan Web sites. In addition, turning the device sideways automatically rotates the page view from portrait to landscape. HTC has also developed its own YouTube application to watch video from the popular site. The software also optimizes the use of Google's mobile mapping service for accessing street maps and getting traffic data. Google owns YouTube.
The Apple iPhone already has similar features to the Touch Diamond, but the latter goes one better by supporting faster 3G networks. Apple, however, is expected to add that feature in the next version of its iPhone, which analysts say is likely to ship this year.
The Touch Diamond is attracting attention, because of HTC's success with the original Touch smartphone, which the company launched in early June 2007. The company has sold 3 million units, making it a challenger to rivals such as Apple, which sold 5.7 million iPhones from its release last summer to the end of the first quarter.
The Touch Diamond weighs less than 4 ounces and includes a 3.2-megapixel camera. The device comes with 4 GB of storage, and supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technologies. Talk time is up to four hours on a fully charged battery, according to HTC. Its size is roughly 4 by 2 by 0.4 inches.
HTC plans to offer the Touch Diamond through all major European carriers in June, and later this quarter in Asia and the Middle East. The device is scheduled to ship in North America and Latin America in the second half of the year.
As a contract manufacturer for others, HTC is one of the biggest makers of Windows Mobile smartphones. The company, however, is also having success in building its own brand name. The company's profits last year increased 15% to $949.4 million on $3.8 billion in revenue, which was 13% higher than the previous year.
Besides making a Windows smartphone, HTC is taking part in Google's initiative to launch an open platform called Android. HTC chief executive Peter Chou told The Wall Street Journal in a telephone interview that the company expects to release an Android-based phone in the second half of this year.
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