Technology

HTC Unveils Tablet Computer


HTC Chief Executive Officer Peter Chou says the company may offer tablet computers with larger screens

(Bloomberg) — HTC Corp. may introduce larger tablet computers than the 7-inch screen "Flyer" device that the Taiwanese company unveiled today to challenge the dominance of Apple Inc.'s iPad.

"We're working on several form factors," HTC Chief Executive Officer Peter Chou said on the sidelines at an industry conference in Barcelona today when asked whether the company may offer bigger tablets. Sales from tablets are "extremely important" for the company, he said.

HTC, the Taiwanese maker of Google Inc. Android and Microsoft Corp. Windows-based mobile-phone handsets, today unveiled the HTC Flyer, a tablet featuring front- and rear- facing cameras.

HTC, based in Taoyuan, Taiwan, joins Samsung Electronics Co., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Research in Motion Ltd. in the market for tablets, now dominated by the iPad. Apple has sold more than 15 million iPads since its release in April, Apple Vice President Eddy Cue said Feb. 2. Global shipments of tablet devices will more than double this year, led by Apple and Android-based models, according to researcher IDC Corp.

Samsung unveiled a newer tablet this week with a 10-inch screen, higher-quality cameras and the latest version of Android, which is also used in the HTC Flyer.

Weight of a Paperback Book

"We are not interested in rushing out another me-too device, and I don't think any of you are either," HTC's Chou said at a press conference, where he introduced the new tablet. It will weigh about 415 grams (0.9 pound), or the weight of a paperback book, Chief Marketing Officer John Wang said.

HTC's choice of a 7-inch screen comes after Samsung sold 2 million Galaxy tablets by the end of December, following its October release. Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, whose iPad sold 3.3 million units in its first fiscal quarter of sales, told investors in October that 7-inch tablets will be "dead on arrival" because the screens are too small, and predicted rivals will increase the size in later versions.

HTC is looking to its own software to differentiate its devices from rival Android tablets. Its 30 million-pound ($48 million) acquisition of Saffron Media Group Ltd., which develops software for delivering content over the Internet, and its $40 million investment in games-on-demand provider OnLive Inc. may help HTC lure users to its tablets and smartphones.

The Flyer includes support for taking notes on-screen with a stylus, as well as playing back audio recordings from the time a note was written. The devices will begin shipping in the second quarter of this year, the company said.

New Android Smartphones

HTC today also introduced five Android-based smartphones, including two that feature dedicated hardware connecting users to Facebook Inc.'s social-networking service.

Global tablet sales reached 17 million units last year and will climb to 44.6 million this year, Framingham, Massachusetts- based IDC said in January. That figure could climb to 70.8 million units next year, it added.

HTC is the world's fifth-largest smartphone vendor, shipping 8.6 million units in the fourth quarter, IDC said Feb. 7. It trailed Nokia Oyj, Apple and Samsung, which was fourth with 9.7 million units, IDC said.

Campbell is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

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