HTC to Apple — We Were First

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Smartphone maker HTC has been largely silent since hit by Apple’s suit claiming patent infringement. The company is not satisfied with being silent any longer and sent over a statement addressing its position. Basically they want to remind everyone that when it comes to smartphones with color touchscreens, HTC was first. The statement doesn’t address the Apple suit specifically, but it is seems HTC is preparing to embark on a course calling into question the validity of Apple’s patents. That would be the logical assumption of the “we were first” path.

“HTC disagrees with Apple’s actions and will fully defend itself. HTC strongly advocates intellectual property protection and will continue to respect other innovators and their technologies as we have always done, but we will continue to embrace competition through our own innovation as a healthy way for consumers to get the best mobile experience possible,” said Peter Chou, chief executive officer, HTC Corporation. “From day one, HTC has focused on creating cutting-edge innovations that deliver unique value for people looking for a smartphone. In 1999 we started designing the XDA.

The O2 XDA by HTC was the first 3.5-inch color touch screen smartphone in the world in 2002, and the T-Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition by HTC was the first 3.5-inch color touch screen smartphone in the United States in 2002. [sic] Our first touch-screen smartphones, and they both shipped in 2002 with more than 50 additional HTC smartphone models shipping since then.”

HTC has a point about having an “iPhone-like” smartphone long before the iPhone shipped, but it may very well come down to proving the Windows Mobile phones of yesteryear are similar to Apple’s phone. Most folks familiar with the HTC/Apple situation believe that Apple is really going after Android, as HTC is the largest maker of Android phones in addition to Windows Mobile. This whole situation is not clear, and lots of eyes will be watching it unfold.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Google’s Mobile Strategy: Understanding the Nexus One


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