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  • 04.14.10

HTC “Continues to Assess” Making Their Own Smartphone OS–or Buying One From Palm

HTC’s got the chops to make their own OS, and it sounds like they’re contemplating making that very choice. Of course, that comes with its own set of challenges and rewards.

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“We continue to assess, but that requires a few conditions
to justify” having our own system, Cheng Hui-ming,
chief
financial officer of the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company, said
in a phone interview with Bloomberg today.

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Those “conditions to justify” are pretty easy to figure out. Apple, for example, is making ridiculous amounts of money from controlling all aspects of its iPhone OS, from software to hardware to advertising to development. And the fact remains that HTC will always be seen as sort of a second-tier player in the mobile world without its own OS. The big boys are Apple, Google, and Microsoft–HTC may make phones for the latter two, but they’re not in the same league.

“If you look at the successful smartphone players, like
Apple and Research in Motion, a reason for their success is that
they have their own platform,” Steven Tseng,
who rates HTC
“buy” at RBS Asia Ltd. in Taipei and favors the company having
its own operating system in the long term, tells Bloomberg. “The negative is the
amount of resources they’d need to allocate.”

That negative, however, deserves more than that brief sentence. So many have tried and failed or are currently failing in the smartphone business. It’s brutal, and very few companies have the ability to put forth their own OS. You need hardware partners, software partners, content partners, and a huge dose of luck to eke out a space. HTC CFO Cheng Hui-ming also noted the “multiple factors” in the decision–it’s not an easy one.

HTC is thought to be one of the most likely buyers of the struggling Palm, which has its own OS, WebOS. WebOS is extremely highly-regarded but through a few mistakes and a sheer lack of power from Palm, it’s fizzling prematurely. HTC could step in, buy Palm, and institute WebOS as its own personal OS, plopped into its own fantastic smartphones and rebranded. This is all conjecture, but the point is, it’s totally reasonable conjecture. But for now, it remains merely a debate in HTC headquarters.

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.

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