The story of HTC is nothing short of amazing. From a little OEM company that developed phones for other companies to a complete powerhouse of a manufacturer and heavyweight in the smartphone industry in 10 short years--it's simply incredible the growth that HTC has shown. In 2008, one in six smartphones in the US were built by HTC. How did this Taiwanese company become so relevant, so fast?
Wired examines the history of HTC and showcases its plan for the future. In the past, they made the right bets (on Android) and did a great job with design and in the future, they'll continue to build their brand and globalize their company. Here's our choice nuggets from the story:
“When we started to work with Google, we had no visibility at all,” says Wang. “The (Android) platform probably would not even materialize and even if it did, it could be just another one in the market. But we shared the excitement.”
Over the next three years, it will spend $1 billion to create a new R&D facility near a Taipei suburb.
Personalization will be another big trend, “I firmly believe that the phone you have should never look like the phone I have,” he says.”If you love stocks and financial news that’s what your phone should show. But if I am interested in Hello Kitty and manga then my phone should reflect that.”
“Brand value is like respect, you have to earn it,” he says. “You can’t buy respect. You can spend all the money you want to build the recognition but that doesn’t mean anything. I want the HTC brand to stand for a great experience.”
The whole story is worthy of a read even with some factual oddities (Sense on the Motorola Cliq, HTC Tattoo on Verizon? Huh?) that we'll begrudgingly excuse because HTC deserves all the accolades and acclaim they're receiving. HTC undoubtedly makes great products and we're glad to see the little company that could become a powerhouse in the industry. Now if HTC can follow up the Hero with the Nexus One ASAP, we'll love them even more.
The guys at Gizmodo got their hands on the Nexus One aka the Googlephone and have come away with some impressions that have been surprisingly hard to come by. We'll give you the highlights but it seems like they've concluded that the Nexus One (or the N1?) will be the Android phone to get when released. Yep, better than the Droid, the Hero, and whatever else Android phone you want right now.
Here's their thoughts:
The Nexus One is slightly thinner than the iPhone 3GS, and slightly lighter.
The back is definitely not cheap and plasticky, like the iPhone's backing, and feels like some sort of rubbery material.
It feels long and silky and natural in your hand—even more so than the iPhone 3GS.
Even though the screen is the same size and same resolution as the Droid, it's noticeably better.
This is probably the best screen we've seen on a smartphone so far. Probably.
The Nexus One is astonishingly faster than the Droid.
[For webpage loading]...the Nexus One loaded first, the iPhone 3GS came in a few seconds later, and the Droid came in a little while after that.
Head over to Gizmodo for their take but this is getting us more excited about the Nexus One than ever before. We love our Droids here at Android Central, something definitively better than the Droid will have to be eye-poppingly good.
Hooray! The Motorola Cliq (full review coming, we promise) has officially been rooted. Which means you can turn this tween-text-teen-social-centric phone into a powerhouse of whatever you like, in time. It's not quite ready for what we all expect rooted Android phones to be ready for--cyanogenMOD ROMs, Sense ROMs, etc.--but we expect that to be all figured out shortly. In the meantime, enjoy the fact that the rooted Cliq won't have to be stuck with Motoblur and will eventually be able to handle anything the devs throw at it!
Hit the link if you want to know how to root your Motorola Cliq!
At long last, National Public Radio's Android app is ready and can be downloaded from the Android Market. The app's launch comes in conjunction with a refresh of NPR's mobile site, m.npr.org.
"We've seen a nearly ten-fold increase in our mobile traffic since the launch of our iPhone app earlier this year, Kinsey Wilson, senior vice president and general manager, NPR Digital Media, said in a news release. "With the redesign of our mobile web site and the launch of the Android app we’re now able to bring that superior experience to a much wider audience."
The NPR app has access to more than 600 NPR stations and hundreds of on-demand streams. Live station streaming is expected to come in the spring. [NPR]
Looks like just about everybody got tipped to this one, but no matter: Here's the Nexus One sized up with the iPhone, and inside, the HTC Hero. And after the break we have a slew of other shots of the device, as well as that 5-minute video walkthrough that's making the rounds. Enjoy! (And thanks, Chris) [img source]
If you want to skip the story about how it was lost, found and started beating like the Telltale Heart, fast forward to 3:30 in. There we get another pretty good look at the phone. Indeed it's on Nextel, and indeed it's got Cupcake on board. And apparently it's driven the dude who picked up the thing in the first place to pack up shop and move to a tiki hut.
Peep the video after the break. Again, this one's a little NSFW thanks to some colorful (and not-so-classy) language. So long, Jay.
Yelp's Android application has been available for just a couple weeks, but already we're seeing some promised features start to roll in. An update to Version 1.2 just hit our phones. And with it comes the following:
Log-ins: The ability to log-in to your Yelp profile via Android.
Upload photos: Take and upload photos with your handset to Yelp.com - which has already proved very popular with the iPhone.
Share business information: You'll be able to share business information with friends via SMS, email, Facebook, and any other features on your phone that are capable of receiving and sending that information.
Good updates indeed! And Yelp is promising more in the weeks to come. We'll stay tuned. [via Yelp blog]
The Motorola Droid is, by far, an industrial-type phone. Solid in the hand, it just feels tough. And that's not by accident. While any glass screen can be cracked, the Droid's is less susceptible to scratches, thanks to its special "Gorilla Glass." We'll leave the science to the scientists. But it has something to do with ions. Here's how it was broken down to SmartPlanet:
Like many glasses used in these kinds of applications, Gorilla glass chemically strengthened. Glass is a brittle material. Brittle materials are extremely strong under compression but extremely weak under tension. When you chemically temper a glass, you immerse it in a salt bath and you stuff larger ions in all the surfaces and put them all under compression.
What’s unique about Gorilla Glass is that because of its inherent composition, it can allow those larger ions to penetrate the surface more deeply to increase the compression tolerance and tolerate deeper scratches.
Maybe you are one of the many who does not have Google Navigation, or perhaps you simply want an alternative. SygicMobile Maps may be just what you are looking for. It is a polished turn-by-turn GPS application that has some nice features.
Text-to-speech – voice guidance announcing the name of the next street or road.
Choose addresses straight from your contacts.
Music playback fades out smoothly so you can better hear the voice instructions.
Improved GPS lock.
Smooth position display as you follow your route.
Increased font size of street names and information bars for improved readability.
Voice guided gps navigation software and maps.
Easy installation process.
This is an application you need to install on your SD card, and it must be purchased directly from Sygic's website. The biggest negative is its price -- a hefty $90.
If you can get past that, you'll have yourself a pretty decent turn-by-turn GPS application for your Android device.
Looking for yet another way to sync with your desktop or laptop computer? SugarSync is a longtime player in that department, and version 2.1 was just released, and it brings the ability to stream media from your desktop. Streaming music isn't limited to WiFi, either, but it will help the buffer rate.
SugarSync has a free 2GB option, and pricing starts at $4.99 a month/$49.99 a year for 30GB of storage, up to $24.99 a month/$249.99 a year for 250GB. Download the update in the Market, and hit up the Web site for the accompanying desktop software. [SugarSync]
Manufacturer General Mobile has unleashed the DSTL1 Imaginary, an Android 2.0-powered phone with a little trick up its sleeve. You might remember the DSTL1 when we spotted it at Mobile World Congress in February, running Specs of the phone are:
Android 2.0 Eclair (upgraded from 1.5)
A Marvell PXA 310 processor running at 624 MHz
4gigs of storage, 256MB ROM/128MB RAM, storage card up to 16GB
GSM 900/1800/1900 GPRS/EDGE
240x400 WQVGA touchscreen
Bluetooth 2.0 (with stereo support)
Weight: 135 grams
5MP camera with autofocus and flash
1200 mAh battery
And that little trick? Dual SIM cards. It's hardly the first phone to have such, but it's one of the first Android devices to sport the feature. Bad news is we don't expect to see these in the U.S. anytime soon, and there's no 3G on board. Otherwise, a solid middle-of-the-road Android 2.0 phone.
Google has an infamous saying, "Don't Be Evil" which is incredibly simple yet loaded with layers of meaning. Obviously, it's a dig at other companies who only make profit-based decisions. It's also a company motto that makes common consumers believe that Google is an all-giving, all-good type of company. And for some, the very basis of reminding yourself to not be evil means you're inherently evil. The slogan can mean so many things to so many different people and perspectives.
Android plays a pretty big role in that "Don't Be Evil" campaign, it's a desktop class smartphone OS that is open source. In fact, one of the most attractive aspects of Android is obviously its open source nature. Companies such as HTC or Motorola can tinker with Android's open source and layer a completely fresh UI on top of it with no argument from Google.
When we open source our code we use standard, open Apache 2.0 licensing, which means we don't control the code. Others can take our open source code, modify it, close it up and ship it as their own. Android is a classic example of this, as several OEMs have already taken the code and done great things with it. There are risks to this approach, however, as the software can fragment into different branches which don't work well together (remember how Unix for workstations devolved into various flavors — Apollo, Sun, HP, etc.). This is something we are working hard to avoid with Android.
It's nice to see that while Google is focused on remaining open source for Android, they're still conscious of the fact that the software may fragment and are taking steps to prevent it from happening. The fragmentation of Android is easily our biggest concern for Android in 2010 and we're hopeful that Google will deliver.
What do you guys think? Can Google be truly 'open' about Android and keep Android from fragmenting?
We'll be honest here, we have Google Wave but we have no idea how to use it. Luckily, more talented folks have gotten a handle on Google Wave and have decided to summarize the year 2009 by using one of Google's more ambitious applications. We get all the highlights, from Obama to Balloon Boy, to the people we happily ridiculed and sadly said goodbye to--2009 was simply a momentous and unforgettable year.
But if we can take anything from this year in review video, it's "dang that was so cool, let's figure out how to use this thing for 2010!". And we guess, that's the way Google would want it. 2010 is going to be huge for Google and of course, for Android. We can't wait.
It'd been a little while, and I guess we were due. So here are a few more pictures of the Nexus One, aka Google phone. And along for the ride this time is a brief video. Peep that after the break. [@djrobrob via TechCrunch]
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