When you think of smartphone platforms, the usual players come to mind. Windows Mobile (s msft), Android (s goog), WebOS (s palm) and iPhone are the major players currently. Windows Mobile 6.5 just launched recently, and Android is evolving at a rapid pace. Palm is continuing to improve WebOS in the Pre and soon the Pixie, and Apple (s aapl) is plodding along with the iPhone 3GS. What these companies better be paying attention to is the unnamed platform, HTC Sense.
HTC Sense is not really a platform in the true sense, but it has the ability to become one in the consumer’s eyes. Perception is reality so I can see Sense becoming a platform in its own right, and that is due to the sharp thinking at HTC.
What is a phone platform? It is the OS backbone that runs the entire show, but to the consumer it is simpler than that. The platform is the interface — the way they interact with the phone, their information and more recently the web. It’s the face on the phone as much as anything, and HTC was savvy enough to see that before most in the game.
The early work done by HTC on the TouchFLO 3D interface was just the forebear of the current Sense interface. HTC first put the Sense interface on the Android-based Hero, easily the best phone on that platform to date. Sense is next going on the HD2 phone to be released soon, bringing the interface to the Windows Mobile 6.5 platform. HTC is taking pains to make the Sense interface become ingrained in every aspect of the phone’s operation, the very function a platform is expected to perform.
I just recently completed a thorough evaluation of the HTC Hero handset, and found it to be an outstanding smartphone. This finding was in large part due to the functionality added by the Sense interface. The phone was fun to use, and Sense made it simple to customize the entire interface to fit my needs. That is the way platforms work, at least the good ones.
I have not held a Windows Mobile phone running HTC Sense, but I hope to remedy that soon. I have thoroughly researched the HTC HD2 phone running the new Windows Mobile Sense, and it is simply outstanding. This hands-on video review of the HD2 shows that HTC has the Sense interface permeating every aspect of the phone’s operation, and to the consumer that is the very definition of the platform. Now that HTC has Sense running on both Android and Windows Mobile, it is a game changer in the smartphone world. A multi-platform platform has never been done, and it will shake up the entire smartphone arena.