Does HTC want its own operating system?
Taiwan’s HTC Corporation, one of the world’s most prolific handset makers, is considering owning its very own operating system. According to the Focus Taiwan website , HTCs chairwoman, Cher Wang, has said the company is considering buying an operating system. “We have given it thought and we have discussed it internally,” said Wang, “but we will not do it on impulse”.
Wang went on to say “We can use any OS we want. We are able to make things different from our rivals on the second or third layer of a platform. Our strength lies in understanding an OS, but it does not mean that we have to produce an OS”
The third layer that Wang refers to is HTC’s Sense UI which provides an enhanced user experience over the standard Android build. The user interface also offers further software integration such as syncing and add-on services.
The timing of the comments are interesting as there are currently two very well crafted operating systems that are effectively up for sale in the form of WebOS and MeeGo. Hewlett Packard, who owns WebOS, recently decided to stop producing WebOS hardware to focus instead on its core business areas. Similarly, after Nokia pulled out of their joint venture with Intel to produce MeeGo phones, Intel also decided to drop the the operating system and focus on chip making and hardware instead.
While there is no indication that HTC are buying either operating system, it does give WebOS and MeeGo fans some hope, as these are the most likely options available to the company. Despite HTCs power and influence, it is unlikely that an in-house OS would seriously compete with Android, Apple, Blackberry and Windows Phone, however it may offer consumers more choice in a market of shrinking choice in phones OSs.
After Google recently acquired Motorola Mobility, it now owns both the hardware and software pieces of the phone pie. It is possible that HTC is trying to mitigate against a future competitive threat from Google. HTC currently produces phones on both the Android and Windows Phone platforms and while it is unlikely that they would drop either OS, having a third OS could provide a future growth opportunity and perhaps carve out a new niche in the market.
Furthermore, great strength can lie in a company controlling both the hardware and software aspects of a phone. Apple is a prime example of a phone maker that controls the whole ecosystem and has done exceedingly well with that model. With Google’s Motorola purchase, HTC are now the only major phone maker not to own its own OS, so it stands to reason that they would want a closed system of their own.