HTC launches smartphone with revamped software to take on Samsung

LONDON Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:11am IST

Guests use a sample phone at the launch of the HTC One smartphone in London February 19, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Guests use a sample phone at the launch of the HTC One smartphone in London February 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

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LONDON (Reuters) - Taiwan's HTC Corp (2498.TW) has unveiled the new smartphone that it hopes will set it apart from the crowd of Google Android devices on the market and help it to make up ground lost to Samsung (005930.KS).

The HTC One is powered by Google's software, but the company has distinguished it from rivals by using new software to replace icons on the home screen with a personalised stream of news articles, social networking updates, photos and video.

Chief executive Peter Chou told reporters in London that the BlinkFeed feature would reinvigorate the smartphone experience.

"BlinkFeed transforms your home screen into a live feed of information that matters to you," he said.

HTC was an early, and successful, maker of smartphones based on Android, but it has been eclipsed by the increasing dominance of Samsung in the Android market.

Android is widening its lead in smartphone operating systems, with devices running the software capturing nearly 70 percent of the market in the fourth quarter, Gartner said last week.

Apple is in second place with 21 percent, while Blackberry (BB.TO) and Windows Phone (MSFT.O), which Nokia (NOK1V.HE) is pinning its hopes on, trailed with 3.5 percent and 3 percent respectively.

HTC, however, has failed to capitalise on Android's dominance. Its share of mobile phone sales fell to 1.8 percent of the market last year, down from 2.4 percent in 2011, according to Gartner, and reported a 91 percent plunge in fourth-quarter net profit last month.

The company, which started as a contract manufacturer, has been outgunned in the marketing stakes by both Samsung, which Gartner said made more than 42 percent of Android smartphones in the fourth quarter, and Apple (AAPL.O).

HTC launched its new device, which features a 4.7 inch screen and quad-core processor, days before the mobile phone industry's biggest gathering in Barcelona.

Analyst Julian Jest, of Informa Telecoms and Media, said that the new smartphone would help HTC to differentiate its brand from the typical Android offering.

"The introduction of HTC One has come at an ideal time - iPhone sales are slowing down and advanced users are now desperately looking for more innovative devices to satisfy their appetite to explore the new technology horizons," he said.

HTC said the device would be available in more than 80 countries from March.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by David Goodman)

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