Earlier in May, HTC was rumored to be entering the Microsoft Windows RT tablet market and now, just a few weeks later, those plans are over. Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported HTC’s change in course on Thursday due to weak demand for Windows RT. Instead, the company is expected to move forward on a 7-inch Android tablet.
I didn’t like the idea of an HTC Windows RT slate for several reasons. First, while the Windows RT product does suit some people’s needs very well, there’s no indication it’s a big seller or that there’s a huge market for such a device. Part of the problem is the cost: For about the same price, consumers can buy a full Windows 8 tablet with similar battery life.
And HTC simply doesn’t have the experience with Windows to engineer a hit right now. In 2007, the company created a Windows hybrid, the HTC Shift, that flopped outside of geek circles. (Sadly, I’m in those circles!)
I realize HTC is trying to diversify its product line. It did just that, albeit in a small way, earlier today with a “Nexus Experience” version of the HTC One. But Windows RT isn’t yet a horse I’d back in this race if I were HTC. A few weeks ago I said:
“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.”
For the moment, Android is both hurting and helping HTC. It helps because it allowed the company to stand out a few years ago as an early Android adopter. But now, Samsung’s Android strategy is sucking most of the profits from this smartphone market, no matter how good the HTC One is. A 7-inch Android tablet might not be a standout product either — we already have the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire and others — but at least the Android tablet market has a big lead on market for the Windows RT slates.