HTC is expected to release fewer phones next year, opting to diversify its product line and focus on high-end devices as it retools its competitive strategy.
The Taiwanese handset maker’s first release of 2012 is expected to be a Windows LTE phone. HTC will reportedly reveal the new device at the CES tradeshow in January, and it could be in consumers’ hands as soon as February.
By choosing Windows over its standard Android for the year’s first release, HTC is pointing to plans to diversify its product offerings. The company spent much of this year locked in patent battles with rival device maker Apple, and recently agreed to remove software using an Apple-owned patent from all of its smartphones.
The legal battles have been expensive and time-consuming for HTC, and resulted in a sales ban in Germany against its devices that put a serious damper on holiday sales.
Growing competition from rival makers Samsung and Apple is also challenging HTC in device sales. HTC is expected to use the updated Windows mobile platform to differentiate its product offerings, and can expect to grow along with Windows phones if they succeed in the marketplace.
Offering a second device platform also gives HTC insurance if the pending merger between Google and Motorola becomes reality, possibly giving Motorola an advantage in the Android market and potentially leaving behind Asian handset makers like HTC, which originally helped propel the Android platform to dominance.
By starting the year with a non-Android offering on the shelves, HTC is in a position to both fend off future patent infringement suits and gain momentum against rival handset makers to rebound in the market, especially in the face of Motorola’s possible advantage.
HTC isn’t leaving Android behind, however. The manufacturer is expected to release a new flagship Android phone in April, the Elite, which will run the 4.0 version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, and carry Beats Audio. It will reportedly be offered by AT&T under the name “Congressional.”
The smartphone world can expect to see fewer releases from HTC next year as the company looks for ways to deflect further lawsuits and diversify its product line. Fewer could prove better for the handset maker if its new strategy helps it carve a new, more competitive foothold.