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HTC considering owning an OS?

Should HTC consider having its own software and hardware package? If yes, which one?

There have been controversial rumors of late of HTC thinking of having an operating system of its own. It would most probably be not an invented one – rather an acquired OS. Cher Wang, chairwoman of Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp., said the company is considering buying an operating system (OS), but apparently is in no rush.

There are two facets of this argument – whether HTC needs an OS, and if yes then which one makes sense? I know it must be a mouth-watering prospect to have yourself covered with all parts of your product, and Apple is a great example. It also helps your product features perform in more integration with one another which end results in giving the end user a holistically optimized experience. But then there are more failures than success in this story too – look at Palm and HP!

Why OS?

What makes the iOS so popular? It is not only a great quality product, but also the total environment around it. It’s the thousands of apps and the mind-blowing marketing strategy that are making it a great platform, and continue to attract more and more developers. It’s also the Apple brand name that has been in existence since 1979. Android comes close to it merely because of the volume of hardware, which is possible due to the open nature of the OS. Now how old is HTC to register itself on people’s mind? If it has software, it will need ample amount of apps, for which you need independent developers ready to invest their time and energy to build app. Now when a developer builds certain app, he looks at some return, in terms of fame or money – and for that the platform has to be popular enough to be able to reach to that many people. HTC has limited options if it wants to acquire one – and not a single of them look like they do attract developers away from iOS or Android for that matter.

We love HTC for its phones and Sense UI, not so much for Android – but it’s Android that has the other components needed to complete the experience – be it the huge marketplace, developer community, open source nature and of course Google!

Which OS?

If HTC finally decides to buy a decent OS, it probably has only two options right now – WebOS and MeeGo, both of which are (or will shortly be) looking for parents. And both have been failures. Nokia left MeeGo half-way and HP is looking at an end-of-life for WebOS and one of the major reasons for these failures in the absence of a decent size community. If HTC were to purchase one of these – it will have to look at a major brand image overhaul.

Moreover with both these OSes, HTC will still have to look at drilling down to the deepest development stage to optimize it for the hardware.


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Pallab Jyotee Hazarika, 2011-09-15 (Update: 2012-05-26)