At the Reuters Global Technology Summit, HTC has revealed its aggressive plans to tap into emerging mobile trends, including NFC technology and tablets, and share its thoughts on having Nokia as a Windows Phone 7 partner.
With the tablet market, HTC says that the Flyer will be the first of many tablets that will be released by the company. The company, however, is no stranger to the tablet market. It had released the HTC Shift, a Windows 7 tablet with a sliding and tilting screen, similar in design to Sprint’s HTC Arrive and the HTC 7 Pro form factor, but with a larger display and the power of Microsoft’s desktop-class OS. Since, then, the company has remained relatively quiet in the tablet space and has only recently begun to make waves with the HTC Flyer and its unique pen on a consumer Android ecosystem.
Florian Seiche of HTC Europe says, “I really believe that the tablet market is really going to be a big market in the future and this is just the start.”
“In five years’ time, schools will have tablets probably instead of physical notebooks. I think that’s going to be such a massive wave of additional penetration in society… I think we can’t even guess the potential.”
Seiche feels confident about the Flyer, which has only begun to go on sale in Europe and still has not hit North America yet. That tablet will come with embedded mobile broadband connectivity for U.S. carrier Sprint, and will utilize 4G WiMax when it lands.
The company also plans on releasing a phone with near field communications (NFC) technology in the next 12 months. Google has been making an aggressive push behind NFC technology, and we’re beginning to see other hardware vendors embed NFC chips in their phones, including the currently released Nokia C7, also known as the Nokia Astound in the U.S. for T-Mobile’s network, and also on forthcoming BlackBerry models. The Samsung Nexus S–also known as the Nexus S 4G for Sprint–also comes with NFC built-in and Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread was released with NFC support at the system level.
NFC is expected to take off in the U.S. as a mobile wallet for payment of physical goods. The technology is expected to mark the convergence of the smartphone with your physical wallet by allowing you to walk into a physical shop and pay for merchandise by tapping your NFC-equipped phone to an NFC-capable reader at the point of sales and pay for your merchandise that way rather than having to carry a wallet and swipe a physical credit card. Though details are still unclear on how credit card companies, carriers, banks, smartphone vendors, OS-makers, and others will leverage and benefit from the technology at this time, the technology is still nascent and probably won’t see much traction until later this year when it arrives on more hardware models.
Additionally, HTC seems to welcome Nokia to the Windows Phone 7 arena despite the new deal that Nokia and Microsoft has inked out, giving Nokia some exclusive powers to change and modify the mobile operating system’s codes to fit its needs. HTC feels that Nokia can bring a lot of cachet to the platform, which could help everyone in the ecosystem, and bring awareness to the mobile OS. Seiche says, “The long-term opportunity with Nokia entering will definitely bring Windows back to critical mass.”
With Nokia entering the field, it’d be interesting to see how HTC and Microsoft will evolve their relationship. Historically, HTC has been the biggest licensee of Windows Mobile, the mobile OS that Microsoft has scrapped in favor of Windows Phone 7. The companies have enjoyed a close working relationship in the past as a result. With the new Nokia-Microsoft partnership, the number one phone-maker in the world will probably be the number one Windows Phone 7 licensee.
However, HTC also makes phones using rival Google’s android operating system, and a lot of growth is seen on that platform.