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Summary:

Another month brings another set of HTC tablet rumors. Maybe the company is looking to build Windows tablets but I can’t think of a single reason why.

Image 2 for post Introducing the HTC Advantage and Shift( 2007-03-26 15:00:00)

Every few months I hear rumors with these two words: HTC and tablet. On Tuesday, I heard them again with a source telling Phone Arena that HTC is expected to debut a pair of new tablets by year’s end. One is allegedly a 7-inch tablet while the other is expected to be a 12-inch device. A tablet isn’t what HTC needs to turn around its sales and profits problems.

HTC’s prior tablets and the market for Windows RT

HTC did create a 7-inch Intel Atom-powered tablet in 2007 called the HTC Shift. It had a hardware keyboard and ran Windows, but like many other UMPC models from that time, it was never a hit. The company doesn’t have expertise with Intel chips and the full version of Windows, however. A few Android tablets from HTC — the Flyer and the Jetstream — came and went without fanfare as well. Given HTC’s experience with ARM-powered chips in smartphones, it would likely build new tablets with similar silicon. That would mean both would run Windows RT and not the full Windows 8 software.

Microsoft Surface RTUnfortunately, I’m not yet convinced there’s a market for Windows RT devices. I fully understand that some readers may have purchased one and are quite happy with it. However, there’s no data to support that Windows RT is a success by any measure: Microsoft hasn’t yet broken out Windows RT license sales from Windows 8 sales.

And after spending time with Surface RT and other Windows RT slates, I haven’t been able to recommend them to anyone. It’s not because they’re bad products; I actually like the user interface and the hardware of the various models. But at a similar price point, it may make more sense to buy an Intel Atom slate that provides similar battery life and performance to RT tablets but also adds support for legacy Windows software.

HTC’s current issues stem from several problems

HTC OneI can understand why HTC might want to expand its product line to include Windows tablets: The company’s smartphone sales have been falling and so too are HTC’s revenues and profits. Instead of leading the pack with Android phones like it used to, HTC is losing out to Samsung. So too are other companies that used be smartphone stars; HTC isn’t unique. As a result, HTC reported just $2.88 million profit on $1.45 billion in revenues last quarter and unless it can quickly reverse its fortunes with the new HTC One, it could see profits dip into losses.

We’ve previously discussed why HTC is in its current predicament. Stronger competition is one part of it. The relative lack of brand awareness and marketing is another big reason. And a lack of focus — too many different permutations and combinations of similar products — haven’t helped either. And therein lies the rub: all three of these issues would only be magnified in the market for Windows tablets.

Losing focus isn’t a winning strategy

A better idea for HTC might be to get its smartphone house in order. It’s definitely on the right path with the HTC One; it’s a top-notch Android smartphone. If the phone is successful, I supposed the company could re-invest profits into designing a Windows tablet or two, but it might be better to continue improving the smartphone line first.

Tablet sales are growing, even as PC sales are slowing, but the market for smartphones is still bigger than both. I’d hate to see HTC lose focus by entering an already crowded market for products that haven’t yet proven successful. It just seems like a big risk that HTC isn’t in a position to take right now.

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  1. HTC was on a HUGE roll when they released the Touch Pro 2 back in 2009 but I haven’t really seen anything interesting from the company since. Evidently Android has replaced Windows in their portfolio, which may also be a mistake for them. Flagship Windows smartphones were their cash cow, yet their Android hardware has been poor even compared to some WM6.x devices. I think a modern Touch Pro 3 with 4G running WP8 is sorely missing from their product lineup.

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  2. I suspect that companies like HTC often release early sub-par products (like Atom or RT tablets) because they want to learn what customers like, and how to build a great product.

    By gaining that expertise before the “real” mainstream products come out (like next gen I3 or Silvermont based tablets with Win 8.1).

    Personally, I’d like to see a faster full-sized iPad with an active stylus. But if that’s not available, a faster slate with long battery life, active stylus and Win 8.1 sure sounds tempting – especially if MS attains the low maintenance effort and fast boot times appropriate for a consumer tablet product.

    BobR

    Appreciate your insight, as always.

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts, Bob. You could well be right about the “experimental” products. My fear though, is that in HTC’s case — with 18 months of falling profits — it will cause them more harm than good. I’d feel differently if they had upward, and not downward, momentum.

      Perhaps the new Intel chips and Windows 8.1 would be used in an HTC tablet and that could allow for less risk. I’m hoping so, if indeed, they’re going down the tablet path again. I’m still not sure what they can bring to the table over slates from Samsung, Asus and a few others, but we’ll see! :)

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  3. Thanks for at least being kind to the RT fans like myself. Since HTC seems to be one of the only other companies in competition for Windows Phone, it makes sense that HTC might even just drop a rumor about the tablet market since Nokia has been doing the same.

    On the RT defense though, with Mohoro (desktop as a service) coming from Microsoft, the RT once again becomes an intelligent choice. Inexpensive and power miserly, it would be the best choice for a DaaS solution. But it looks like we may be waiting until 2014 for DaaS to become a reality.

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  4. Finally, a company that’s going to release a Windows 8 tablet that is bigger than 11.6″. Although my preference is for a 13″ tablet running a minimum i3 with 128Gb and HD resolution, a 12 inch will still do fine for me, thanks. Can’t be on Windows environment and have an 8″ screen. All this time and they haven’t done a proper consumer need survey. For god’s sake, forget about the RT or 8″ market……..

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  5. Rann Xeroxx Tuesday, May 28, 2013

    Actually HTC is doing well with the One, they simply had supply problems and those are expected to be resolved for the next fiscal quarter. The HTC One is currently THE premium phone for Android and, IMHO, much better then the SG (note, I own neither).

    As for a HTC 8″ RT tablet, if rumors are true, this would also have full cellular data AND voice. I have been waiting for a device like this, would even get a iPad Mini if it had voice. I find that I hardly ever use my phone’s smart features anymore and hot spot it for my tablets. Only thing I am missing is voice.

    I am using a Surface RT (from work) and really love this device. It has its short comings but it is improving almost monthly with updates (sounds is now louder, my bluetooth headset now connects correctly). I’m not a gamer or consumer of entertainment so am not a good source of the value of that on a tablet.

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