Peter Chou, the CEO of HTC, today said that Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) are “doing what they have to do” and that his company would remain committed to developing phones on the Windows Phone platform even as Microsoft moves into a deeper integration with one of its chief competitors.
He was speaking on a panel at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, on the “power of apps”. Other speakers included Martin Sorrell, the CEO of advertising giant WPP.
Chou said that he has been asked about Nokiasoft “more than 20 times” since getting to Barcelona. “Every meeting I go to.”
“I believe Microsoft and Nokia are doing what they have to do,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but from HTC’s point of view, because we have been working with Microsoft for more than a decade [in] a deep strategy — Steve [Ballmer] and I are good friends — we are very committed to Windows Mobile.”
HTC was one of the lead partners when Microsoft first launched the mobile operating system last autumn, and HTC currently has several devices on the market running on the platform, but in a big press conference this morning launching five new phones and a tablet, WP7 was nowhere to be found.
Windows Phone 7 has had a slow start in terms of sales, apps and mindshare in the mobile industry. Microsoft is hoping that a deal with Nokia, even with its huge market share and brand under threat, will give it the critical mass it needs to take of. HTC does, too. “This combination [of Nokia and Microsoft] is sure to make the ecosystem stronger and we will benefit from that. So we are positive on it.”
One of the big issues with developing Android handsets is that every OEM is doing it. To set itself apart, HTC is pushing the boundaries with what kinds of services can be integrated into the experience, but even its biggest handset innovation announced today — the special Facebook button on two devices, the ChaCha and the Salsa — was already announced last week by another OEM, the Hutchison-owned INQ.
But Chou claims that the phone is not going the way of the anonymous PC. “We are focussing on the premier [features] like colour, touch and experiences,” he said. “Individual companies can still differentiate.”