Google’s revealed its new flavour of the Android sweet, with Android 5.0 – previously known as lollipop.
Since February, we have heard many rumours of a ‘premium’ 8 inch tablet from Google. Now, a new Digitimes report has surfaced claiming that, instead of the previously rumoured 8.9-inch form factor, the HTC tablet will offer an 8-inch display and will likely go by the name Nexus 8
The poor naming aside, the One (M8) is a phone that takes the brilliance of last year’s device, improves it in nearly every area and then packs it full of all the latest tech… And still finds space to pack in a microSD card slot.
You go to sell your old iPad, you might not get the return you expected. Why does technology not resell well and lose its value?
This seems to be part of a growing trend… Really fingerprint scanners everywhere? Com’on… Oh well, looks like they’re here to stay. But this time round its HTC swiping fingers and scanning prints, launching a larger sibling to that of the HTC One, the HTC One Max. Like it needed to get any bigger. It comes as HTC tries to quell the growing calls for them to produce more ‘phablet’ like handsets, bridging the gap between a phone and a tablet.
HTC have always been an well known and trusted brand in the mobile phone market. The firm has moved along a lot in the mobile market – from selling notebooks to high end smartphones. They have been biting at the heels of their competition now for over 14 years, but on Monday HTC Corp posted record low quarterly profits and dismal product delays. HTC may have just peaked…
HTC Corporation, established by Cher Wang and Peter Chou, have a long history of generating market ‘firsts’ and stimulating innovation and growth throughout the industry. In 1998 they began work on the first wireless and touch screen mobiles, 2002 saw them announce the first Microsoft powered smartphone. Again in 2005 they introduced the first 3G Microsoft phone and later followed this up with the HTC EVO 4G in 2010, the first 4G enabled device to hit the USA. Since then they have made several strategic moves, such as acquiring 51% of Beats shares in 2011 and implementing Beats technology into later devices as a major selling point. As well as this they had received “Device Manufacturer of the year” 2011 at Mobile World Congress and later went on to become the biggest mobile vendor in Q3 2011 in the US.
But now most of the shine has rubbed off and we are sadly looking at a much more fragile and withered company. HTC have for a long time been seen to be on the back foot of the mobile game. After gaining top mobile seller in Q3 2011 – market shares plummeted to below 9% with the rise of Apple and Samsung. HTC has since released several flagship models, the HTC One X did not succeed as expected in the market and HTC’s reliance on mobile providers to wholly advertise their devices failed in the light of Samsung’s and Apple’s harsh advertising campaigns. HTC was lost in the ‘WOW’ between Samsung and Apple. Therefore current CEO, Peter Chou, has placed a great amount of pressure on the launch of HTC’s latest flagship model for 2013, the HTC One – and has commented stating that if the phone was to fail, he would resign.
Seduced by the hype around the HTC One, announced in February, the device contains a 13 megapixel camera, Android 4.1.2, 4.7 inch 1080P screen, 2GB RAM and a quad core processor – equally matching the likes of Apple’s iPhone 5, and a possible alternative to the new Galaxy S 4. Yet as consumers begin to queue up outside their nearest tech retailers, somebody is going to have to tell them they will need to wait a little longer. After a shortage of camera parts HTC has delayed a launch of the HTC One in many markets around the world. At the end of Q1 HTC intended for availability in 80 markets world wide, but have only achieved this in 3. It does not expect, nor do suppliers, to be able to launch the HTC One in North America, Europe or Asia by the end of April – to the disappointment of many fans.
While Samsung Electronics has announced the Galaxy S 4 will be available in 155 countries by the end of April.
HTC reported unaudited net profits of T$85 million, that is compared to the T$10.9 billion same time last year. To date, the latest profits are HTC’s lowest since 2004. Analysts are now becoming concerned at the companies continued failure and consumers are noticing a change in company movements. HTC will face a backlash when trying to market low end devices in Q3-Q4. Nevertheless HTC has partnered with Facebook in recent weeks to announce Facebook Home, another take on an Android OS, HTC hopes that the joint work on Home and the exclusive pre install that Facebook can offer HTC on their HTC First device would be enough to draw back buyers. Sadly I don’t think this will be enough. HTC’s First will come preinstalled with Facebook Home, but apart from that will remain a low end Android phone, HTC will not have a large enough distribution or unique features to profit from the launch of ‘First’.
“The Facebook phone is not enough to turn HTC around,” said Daiwa analyst Birdy Lu.
HTC have lost their way. Several failed phones down the line, shares have halved in value over the last 12 months. HTC had betted on the HTC One being their saviour – but the delayed launch and problems with supplies is not a good omen. Now the news comes from other sources as well, that if you were indeed able to get your hands on a HTC One, and the supplier was O2 – you would not receive a charger. Well thats just dandy. This may be more up to O2’s policy makers but nevertheless it only opens up networks to flog even more junk off to consumers after purchasing a new mobile. Either way HTC have hit a bit of turbulence in their journey through the market, it is up to their management and suppliers to decide if they make it safe out the other side – or if their plane disintegrates in a storm. The public can be forgiving, I don’t feel the delay will cause much added woes for them. But HTC must be able to produce a superior devices with enough power and use behind it to get back on their track.
Right well – we have had time to digest and soak in the aftermath; now its time to analyse the goings on at Facebook. As scheduled the event kicked off at 1PM Est inside the Facebook HQ – to the unsurprisingly there was a sense of uncertainty in the room. Facebook had flouted with the likes of a smartphone for many years – and this industry critics had suggested that Facebook would indeed produce a ‘Facebook Phone’. But now the ideal time has passed and still we have not seen a robust and solid ‘Facebook Phone’.
Mark Zuckerburg stood unnerved in front of the baying crowd of press and technology gurus and announced that the social networking giant would now be moving into the mobile phone arena in a rather awkward fashion. The Californian company took the wraps their “Home” suite of applications that will be available for Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean from the 12th April. Facebook Home has been ushered out of the Facebook development labs as the world waits to for the next step in mobile communication. But has Mark Zuckerburg and his ace team delivered?
Well to some extent yes, it can be said that the predications mostly turned out true. But on the other hand, those expecting a dedicated and home bred Facebook Phone will be left with a nagging sensation for something better. Primarily Facebook Home is a ‘wrapper’ for the Android based OS that can be downloaded from the Play Store on compatible devices such as the Galaxy S 3 and S 4 as well as the HTC One X and the HTC First, later to be released. The skin then controls the functionality of the phone and masks the original Android UI in a more blueish Facebook likened scheme. Replacing the app icons that can be currently found in Android, Facebook Home aims at engaging a more socially orientated user with the content and update:
“We have our phones with us all the time, and we just want to know what’s going on with the people around us.”
Zuckerburg went on to say that currently mobiles are designed around applications and how the user may access these, therefore Facebook Home is centred around the idea that a users Social Feeds are the priority. The software replaces the Android lock screen with a Cover Feed that can introduce latest updates, notifications and events. The idea Zuckerburg explained was that the software would be: “putting people first in your phone,” – and so far this seems true. Notifications are organised by friends and not applications, the user is constantly in communication with friends via Facebook Chat and it is noticeable that the UI is definitely centred around a persons photo collection.
Facebook has deeply integrated all of their services into Home, for example the implementation of Facebook Chat us very ‘cool’ – labeled “Chat Heads” upon receiving a new Chat notification the friends head will pop up in a bubble to the side of the screen that you can manipulate, but most importantly reply to without leaving your current foreground task. Tapping on the heads ironically provides a chat dialogue for you to converse in chats over IM and text messaging. Navigating the devices can be done with a touch of the home button at the top of the screen, represented as the users Facebook profile picture. But also there can be noted that Facebook has included several home screen pages for the storing of your apps, nothing major – but nice to know – especially since the whole Facebook Home UI does eliminate the Android’ness’ of your phone, locking you into Facebook’s ecosystem until you somehow remove the software.
Either way Facebook has dished out a lot of new tech for the world to play with in the upcoming days. Available as a free download or purchased as preinstalled on the the HTC First smartphone – it remains untried and unpredictable how the world will react to Facebook Home. Facebook’s partnership with HTC will undoubtedly be a success, by means that the a little of HTC’s reputation may rub off onto Facebook Home to bolster their sales. But nevertheless I think the move that Facebook has made is a logical one. The move towards Android and lack of IOS is down to Apple’s strict control over the operating system. IOS needs a refresh end of – but that is another story. Facebook has shown that it wishes to move into the mobile market, if not to continue to grow and appeal in user strength. But as they do s0, they must tread carefully amongst those concerned with privacy. The features, such as Cover Feeds on the lock screen could potentially pose a major risk to personal privacy – and Facebook doesn’t need a scandal. Currently I do not believe Facebook to be on the paths of producing a real ‘phone’. They are unquestionably a software firm and find themselves with little experience in producing hardware – look at Microsoft for example. But if Home proves a major success, I see no reason for Facebook to make a meaningful and collaborative deal with the likes of HTC or any other leading manufacturer. Facebook has begun to realise that the desktop experience can not be their only priority, and that they better catch up with the portable revolution – or risk losing friends.