HTC is best known for building the first touchscreen-based PDA phones with the MDA series and have built the Experia for Sony Ericsson, the original Google phone, as well as its successor Nexus One. They are also expected to announce more tablets at next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, following the Shift, a tablet / UMPC hybrid, which preceded the iPad. While HTC almost exclusively built Windows Mobile handsets in the past, they now have their emphasis on Android devices.
So why is the company branching out like this? I would like to suggest that HTC has clear ambitions to establish Android as the main platform for meaningful, i.e. deep gaming in the smartphone market and it wants to build the handsets to go along with it. The Financial Times author Robin Kwong believes that HTC is poised to become a major content provider in the mobile arena.
HTC has already started hiring staff to work towards the possible launch of an online store, and it is now busy striking up partnerships with content distributors. These deals make sure that when the store comes online, HTC will have content to sell that is distinct from rival Android phonemakers such as Samsung or Motorola.
OnLive, for example, had just said at CES that it was expanding to mobile devices as well as home TVs and PCs. It’s not hard to see them now integrating their service into HTC’s smartphones. (...) OnLive already has an application on the iPad – though that doesn’t support actual gameplay. Its CES announcement also said it was integrating its gameplay service into Vizio’s tablets and smartphones. In Saffron’s case, even though HTC is acquiring the entire company, Saffron will remain an independent agency free to also offer its services to others, such as its current customers Nokia and Sony Ericsson.
In theory, this means that Samsung and others could also turn to OnLive and Saffron to replicate what HTC has done. But in reality, it seems more likely that HTC will remain much closer to these companies because of its share ownership.
After Sony announced PlayStation Suite, which will bring older PlayStation games to Android phones, the platform is set to dominate mobile gaming in the smartphone space. Perhaps, HTC will also be building the Xperia Play, the PlayStation phone, which will also be officially unveiled in Barcelona. Certainly, HTC aims to be the leading manufacturer of mobile gaming phone hybrids.