Bloomberg reports that HTC is jumping on the smartwatch bandwagon with a solution of its own, joining the likes of rival phone maker Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, Sony and a number of other device makers claiming their stake in a new industry. HTC's model will supposedly be based on Google's Android (no surprise there), and have a built-in camera for taking pictures. Smile at my wrist, please!
According to the report, the smartwatch is slated to be released in the second half of 2014, possibly the same timeframe that Apple plans to launch its own smartwatch solution. The source told Bloomberg that cost, functions and sales strategy are still to be decided on before the device hits the market. Whether the device will be limited to specific smartphones like Samsung's Galaxy Gear, or open to all phones like Sony's SmartWatch 2, is unknown at this point.
Unfortunately, the report doesn't reveal anything else, and HTC told Bloomberg that it doesn't comment on rumors or speculation. But the news conveniently arrives after the company reported its first quarterly loss thanks to a dwindling smartphone market share, which dropped 54 percent to fall behind Samsung. The emerging wearable devices market is expected to reach $19 billion by 2018, compared to $1.4 billion this year alone.
Chief Marketing Officer Ben Ho said in an interview with Bloomberg that Chairwoman Cher Wang recently gathered HTC employees at a town-hall style meeting to tell them that the company needs to improve its customer focus. Joined by Chief Executive Officer Peter Chou, the meeting lasted for 90 minutes, and included a question and answer session. Wang made it clear that after-sales service is important to ensure that customers will remain loyal and return.
Chou took over as president in 2004, and has since struggled against Apple, Samsung and a number of Chinese smartphone makers driving prices down. That said, HTC may need to enter another market -- say the smartwatch market -- to reclaim lost revenue, and not be left behind in an emerging market. HTC's third-quarter net loss was $101 million, wider than what was estimated by analysts.
Just recently, HTC was named as the OEM behind Amazon's supposed smartphone. The company didn't acknowledge its involvement, nor did it make any denials. "We have been very focused on building our own brand, but we have also been very open to co-branding and collaborating with carriers and other technology brands," said Ho.