One of the homegrown HTC apps included on the One M8, Zoe, is a decent video remixing app with a few social features. HTC now seems poised to introduce the app to other Android devices, even if they’re not made by HTC, which means the beleaguered hardware maker is now yet another company in a crowded apps marketplace.
According to Re/code, Zoe was developed in HTC’s Creative Labs, a San Francisco–based office that has taken the lead in the past on design and features for HTC’s high-end handsets. Zoe has been available on Google Play since earlier this year, but it could only be installed on HTC devices. Soon, though, users will be able to install Zoe on most devices running Android 4.4, the latest version of the OS.
Once a leader of the Android hardware market, HTC hasn’t been having the easiest time in the past few years, with declining revenue dating back to 2011. Those woes have led to several management shakeups in the past few months, including a swap at the head of HTC Creative Labs in which Drew Bamford — whose previous position was being in charge of Sense UI, HTC’s Android software — replaced Scott Croyle, who was more involved on the hardware side.
It’s hard to see how Zoe, which is another way to remix video and photos and share them across social networks, is the key to halting HTC’s decline. But HTC is in a position to experiment. Its previous strategy of making high-quality devices hasn’t worked; although the HTC One M8 is a lovely piece of hardware, its sales seem to have slowed during the summer, and the Windows Phone version that is expected this fall might not provide the sales boost that HTC needs.
HTC has even started to outsource its lower-end phones to other manufacturers. That puts it in competition with Chinese white-label handset makers, a low-margin business. In light of HTC’s unattractive alternatives, I can see why the company decided to make software and I expect Zoe to be the first of several apps — perhaps Blinkfeed is next — coming out of the one-time hardware company.