HTC treads lightly in smartwatches and goes disruptive on tablets

Posted by Emory Kale
 
According to HTC’s chief executive Peter Chou and chairman Cher Wang HTC is not leaping onto the wearable bandwagon just yet. In a story posted on the Financial Times’ website the two HTC bigwigs were a bit cautious about leaping into the Dick Tracy watch-phone market until they can get it right. That isn’t to say that HTC won’t come out with a wearable device to compete with Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch or a rumored Apple iWatch. 
 
In spite of having worked with Microsoft on a smart watch a few years ago, Chou said “It’s still too early,” to get into the wearable-technology market. Many “version one” offerings are little more than “gimmick” experiences that lack style. “It has to meet a need, otherwise if it’s just a gimmick or concept, it’s not for people’s day-to-day lives. That is an opportunity for us.”
 
It’s an opportunity because, as Chou said, “Wearable technology is a critical segment for us. It matches what we do today as a mobile experience overall. That is one area we are excited about.”
 
At the other end of the spectrum HTC is also cautiously excited about tablets although, like wearables, it’s biding its time. 
 
 
“When the [HTC] tablet comes out it will be something nice and disruptive,” Ms Wang says. “There are a lot of devices to innovate . . . Ubiquitous intelligence is not just wearables.”
 
So is this all just a way for HTC to plant virtual flags in the wearable and tablet terrains while they focus on more immediate problems such as HTC One’s lack of market share? Or is it good business sense?
 
When it comes to biding their time on tablets, I believe that HTC is simply waiting for someone to give them a green light – a green light that says ‘yes there are a zillion tablets out there, but HTC might be able to capture more than a few percent of the market if they do this, this, and this.’ – whatever this, this and this might be. In other words, there is no good reason for HTC to dive into that crouded swimming pool and there is no good reason for them not to.
 
When it comes to wearables, a wait and see approach seems to make more sense. The market is nascent at best and no one knows if it will ever climb out of the gimmic box into mainstream society. There have been other wearable devices over the years and just about all of them have failed. 
 
I used to have a Pulsar calculator watch back in the 80’s (not quite a Casio Databank calculator watch) but it did feature a touch screen with buttons so small it was essentially a useless toy.
 
Casio’s Databank calculator watch which not only performed calculator functions, but also stored appointments, names, addresses, and phone numbers.
 
You can still buy one of these beasts at Target for about $25. You can also buy radio watches (with AM receivers and transmitters) and calender watches and game-playing watches (there was even a Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookie Star Trek Promo Space Attack watch!) but they aren’t ‘must have’ pieces of technology.
 
The question is why didn’t these watches take the world by storm? Was it because they had buttons that were too small or because they lacked that one key feature – a phone with a swipe and pinch interface? Maybe should we look at the current new wave of wearables not as an extension of the wristwatch with extra features, we should look at them as wearable extensions of the smart phone. 
 
Of course, if that’s the case then we have to ask, is a device on your wrist better than a wireless headphone adapter?