HTC leaders Peter Chou and Cher Wang believe wearables are a "critical segment" for the company, but say HTC won't put out a gimmicky "version one" product. The comments came in a joint interview with the Financial Times. "[A smartwatch] has to meet a need, otherwise if it’s just a gimmick or concept," says CEO Chou. The CEO, who is handing over some responsibilities to focus on new products, believes current smartwatches fall short as they aren't useful in "people's day-to-day lives," and that represents a big opportunity for HTC to release something better.
It's an opportunity HTC has already looked into: the company apparently worked on a smartwatch with Microsoft "several years ago." Although Chou doesn't go so far as to reveal any particular product in the works, he's very clear on the potential of smartwatches: "people laughed at us when we came out with the first smartphone... now everyone has a smartphone. I’m pretty sure wearables will be the same, but don’t judge from what is in the market [now]."
"[The HTC tablet] will be something nice and disruptive."
Chou and Wang also spoke frankly about the company's plans beyond smartphones and watches. HTC has worked on a number of tablets in recent years, but hasn't released a tablet since the ill-fated Flyer and Jetstream tablets came out in 2011. Last we heard, the company had canned plans for a 10.1-inch Windows RT tablet, but was persisting with a pair of 7-inch tablets, one running Windows RT and another running Android. However, HTC is now referring to the upcoming reentry to tablets as a singular device. "When the tablet comes out it will be something nice and disruptive," says Wang.
HTC appears to be backing away from Windows Phone
Just over a week ago, the Financial Times reported that HTC is working with Amazon on a smartphone. Producing the long-rumored Amazon phone would be a huge boon to HTC's struggling finances. Although Chou refused to verify the Amazon report, he says that HTC is "open minded to those kinds of opportunities." Chou also hints that HTC's long history as a Microsoft partner — the company cut its teeth as an OEM manufacturer of Pocket PC and Windows Mobile devices — is in trouble. He says that Windows Phone sales have been "pretty small," adding that the company doesn't yet know how to position a Windows Phone in the market.