Fri, Feb 21, 2014 - Page 13 News List

HTC planning to unveil wearable device


Amid its struggles to reverse sliding sales, HTC Corp (宏達電) is planning to demonstrate the first of three wearable devices next week in Barcelona, Spain, a person with direct knowledge of the plans said.

A smartwatch prototype based on Qualcomm Inc’s Toq device is to be previewed to telecoms at the Mobile World Congress trade show, with no plans to unveil the device publicly yet put in place, the person said, asking not to be identified because the details have not been released.

The Taiwanese smartphone maker is also developing a watch using Google Inc’s Now service and an electronic bracelet that plays music, although it may not demonstrate them at the show, the person added.

HTC chairman Cher Wang (王雪紅) is counting on new products, more marketing and better customer service to reverse two straight annual declines in revenue as Chinese competitors sell smartphones for as little as US$100.

The Taoyuan-based firm is preparing to release its first wearable device by Christmas and is working to resolve issues with the battery and display, Wang said in an interview this month.

When HTC, once the top seller of smartphones in the US, rolls out wearable devices, it will be competing with Samsung Electronics Co and Sony Corp in a nascent market that may triple in value to be worth US$30 billion by 2018.

HTC shares yesterday climbed 1.9 percent to close at NT$133.5 in Taipei.

Global sales of wearable devices, which include glasses, watches and medical products, were about US$10 billion last year and are expected to triple by 2018, according to forecasts by researcher IHS.

HTC on Feb. 10 forecast a third consecutive quarterly operating loss as it lost market share to LG Electronics Inc and Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想), amid product delays and a shrinking marketing budget.

“We took our eyes somewhat off the ball” in terms of product lineup, chief financial officer and head of global sales Chang Chia-lin (張嘉臨) said in an interview in New York this month.

The company will begin selling its first mid-end smartphone — priced as low as US$150 — globally this year, Chang told reporters last week.

HTC’s first smartwatch is to feature Qualcomm’s Mirasol display technology, Bluetooth connectivity and a music player, the source said, adding that the second watch, based on Google’s Now set of applications, will likely feature an active-matrix organic light-emitting-diode screen.

HTC is also working on a smart wristband with a thin touchscreen display, music player and activity-tracking features, the person said.

The company has yet to decide if any of the devices will go into final production, the source added.

Qualcomm unveiled its Toq connected wristwatch in September last year as a means of showing developers the components it can offer for use in wearable devices.

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