HTC has been a key protagonist of the wearable rumour mill over the last year, with the world eager to see what devices it has to offer. First, it was rumoured to be working on a smartwatch for release in 2014, before counter rumours circulated that it had canned the project. Then, last month, reports stated the project was back on.
In an interview with Re/code, HTC confirmed that all of the above was true, and that it was working on wearable devices – but it was holding back until it got things right.
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“We had originally planned to have a wearable launch in this time frame,” HTC Americas head Jason Mackenzie said. “It ended up just not being ready.”
Mackenzie confirmed that HTC’s secretive launch event in the US on 8 October was destined to be the unveiling of its new smartwatch, before the decision was taken to push it into next year.
Not a strong reason to wear
“We’ve seen a lot of general purpose wearables come to market,” Drew Bamford, who heads the HTC Creative Labs team told Re/code. “There’s not a strong reason to wear one every day. When we come to market with our product we want to make sure the product has a strong point of view and there is a really compelling reason to strap it on your wrist.”
We have to admire HTC’s honesty and desire to get things right, but do question whether it’s the right decision to wait. On the one hand, making a splash with the right product is a sure-fire way to stand out in a market that’s gone from stagnant to crowded in a matter of months.
However, by holding back HTC is passing up the chance to learn about the wearable market with an active product, and throw its smart hat into the ring. That's exactly what Samsung has done, and it now owns a market leading position and is starting to get things right.
A 2015 launch will also see the HTC smartwatch go head-to-head with the Apple Watch, of course.
If HTC can solve the big wearable questions with a product next year then great. However, as it stands today it’s the only big name without a wearable product and risks being left behind.
Whatever it’s got up its sleeve, it better be good.
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