Phil ... in a helicopter

After a full week on the road, a couple things stand out regarding recent events from HTC and Sony. It's crazy to think that HTC has had such a bigger presence in the U.S. than the Japanese giant, but that's the way it's been for a few years now.

But for both companies, maybe things finally are about to change.

We'll start with HTC, since it came first in the week. I spent a solid two days in closed-door meetings with the company (we footed the bill for this trip, in case you were worried or something) and a couple dozen of our blogging colleagues, and it's pretty clear that the company's sure of its long-term direction, and all of that began to play out with the week's announcements.

Mobile's still the main gig, for sure. Smartphones are the bread and butter, and we will see return to tablets in some respect (by the way, while that HTC exec did talk tablets to a Taiwanese journalist, he never actually said "Nexus," and that was the journalist taking liberties — but, yeah). Whatever misgivings you might have about the other parts of the triangle, mobile is what makes HTC go.

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But software — and we're not just talking Sense or other custom design of Android — will play a bigger and bigger part. The launch of Zoe 1.0 is the start of that. And I think the inclusion of iOS as part of that is a clear sign that we can start to look at HTC as a software house in addition to a mobile manufacturer. Question is, what's next?

And then there's this RE camera, which is just the start of HTC's move into "emerging devices," which is just a buzzword for connected accessories. We've seen HTC dabble in this a number of times already — there's the Mini+ or the Fetch, which I have but never actually tried, the nicely designed (but dead on arrival) BoomBass speaker, and probably some other products floating around. Maybe the RE camera will surprise us and sell. Maybe it won't. As has always been the case with HTC, design (and to a lesser extent execution) isn't the issue — finding that niche to fill is. And that's true for any company, not just HTC. It's sure as hell not easy. So the RE camera is just the start of that. Question is, what's next?

Sony's event was sort of a weird one. After the presentation (see our liveblog for a recap), we only had about a half-hour or so to check out the phone before they shut down the joint. Not really enough time to get a great feel for it, but I'm very much looking forward to spending some time with the Xperia Z3v.

It was also weird that it only was billed as Sony event but turned out being a Sony/Verizon joint. We don't always know those things going into it, and we could tell by the comments that you folks were a little confused as well. It happens, though.

So Sony's back in the U.S. on Verizon — that's a big deal — and the Z3 is still coming on T-Mobile at some point (also not a small deal, though I fear a return to the bad old days in which every carrier variant of a phone gets a new name). It'll be interesting to see if there are any major physical differences between the two, especially given the changes between the Euro Z3 and the Verizon Z3v.

So, another long, crazy week. It's good to be home.

A few other thoughts ...

  • Not that it's going to be a slow return — Nexus and Android Wear are coming. Soon. (Though some parts may be sooner rather than later. All shall become clear, erm, soon.)
  • Oh, right. The helicopter thing. I highly recommend splurging and doing that tour over New York City. Hell of a view. And I guess that means I no longer get to think I have any sort of fear of flying.
  • I'm loving that Google Play redesign. So fast, and that drawer animation is simple but sick. And the What's New section is as it should be.
  • I'm starting to flip back through this year's top-shelf phones, trying to figure out which is the best.
  • How'd you like to be the person in charge of Thursday's iPad event livestream? Not me.
  • Great read on the Tesla Model S P85D from Chris Davies at SlashGear. I'm not exactly in on the car scene, but all the reads of that one seemed a little odd, too. "Here's a car. We took a ride. It went real fast," and that was it. Great PR control by Tesla, though. And one hell of a car.
  • Oops. Wrong link. Try this one.
  • Too early to tell, with the Model 3 still a ways away, but I might have to start resigning myself to the fact that a Tesla's just going to be out of my price range till the kids are grown.
  • The ridiculousness that is the NFL continues.
  • Another week of uneventful flights. Seems that the 99.9 percent of folks up here (I'm writing this on the plane Friday) can handle the person in front of them reclining their seat. Someone tell CNN.

That's it for this week, I think. Get ready, folks. It's coming.