HTC Hints At Mobile OS Acquisition

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC, which is mired in a bitter legal dispute with Apple as part of its fight against Android, is reportedly considering purchasing its own mobile operating system.

This is according to comments by HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang, speaking to Economic Observer of China, which was picked up by Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

“We have given it thought and we have discussed it internally, but we will not do it on impulse,” Wang said in an interview with the Economic Observer.

Mobile Choice

“We can use any OS we want. We are able to make things different from our rivals on the second or third layer of a platform. Our strength lies in understanding an OS, but it does not mean that we have to produce an OS,” Wang reportedly said.

Of course HTC already has its own user interface (Sense), which it could overlay on any purchased mobile operating system.

The news may come as something of a surprise, however, to HTC’s current partners Google and Microsoft. HTC handsets currently use Android predominantly, but the company does also offer some Windows Phone 7 handsets.

However Google’s decision to acquire Motorola Mobility, could put the search engine giant in direct competition with HTC.

Legal Struggle?

Another possible reason is that HTC is looking for alternatives if the bitter Apple lawsuit goes against the Taiwanese handset maker.

Last week it emerged that HTC had acquired certain Android-related patents from Google, in order to expand its own lawsuit against Apple. HTC is already being sued by Apple as part of its fight against Android, and in turn the Taiwanese mobile maker is also suing Apple.

Yet some believe that HTC is losing its legal fight against Apple, which may eventually force HTC to opt for a different mobile operating system.

So wrote Florian Mueller, the intellectual property (IP) analyst, when he commented last week that HTC is “clearly on the losing track”.

“HTC is the first Android device maker sued by Apple, so that dispute is at the most advanced stage, and since HTC’s own patent portfolio is weak, it has so far lacked the leverage to force Apple into a cross-license agreement,” wrote Mueller. “The possibility of HTC being defeated must have scared Google.”

WebOS Or MeeGo?

So what operating systems could HTC acquire?

At first glance the decision by Hewlett-Packard to spin off its PC division and close down its mobile business strongly suggests that the webOS platform could be a possible target.

But another mobile operating system is also a possible target – that is Intel’s-MeeGo, which is now also thought to be looking for a new home.

Earlier this month, a report from Taiwan-based DigiTimes citing unnamed industry sources, suggested that Intel is planning to “temporarily discontinue” its development of MeeGo, due to the company’s lack of success in signing up hardware developers to the platform.

Intel will instead focus on developing mobile handset hardware next year, with the focus on either Google’s Android or Microsoft’s Windows Phone, the report suggested.

It is known that Intel has been searching for hardware partners for MeeGo, following the decision by Nokia back in February to ditch both Symbian and MeeGo, and instead opt for Windows Phone 7.

The Nokia announcement came just as Intel was showing off a MeeGo tablet.

In April MeeGo did receive significant backing from Tencent, a major Chinese software and hardware development company. However, no major device vendor has so far committed to MeeGo-based products.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

View Comments

  • HTC may be losing the battle but Motorola and Samsung Google are pretty much all even against Apple.

    Also the kind of patents Apple are using against HTC and Android could be use against any operating system and not just Android.

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