But Apple can be expected to pull out all the stops to retain its comfortable lead over its younger rival. Earlier this month, it dragged Taiwanese phone maker HTC to court, alleging that its Android phones infringe nearly 20 of its patents. It wants a ban on the import of all such HTC handsets that infringe the iPhone-related patents.
Although HTC is yet to officially respond in court, the phone maker from the Far East has finally broken its silence over the lawsuit. It should not surprise anyone that HTC disagrees with Apple's claims and remains unfazed. It has vowed to “fully defend” itself.
“HTC strongly advocates intellectual property protection and will continue to respect other innovators and their technologies as we have always done, but we will continue to embrace competition through our own innovation as a healthy way for consumers to get the best mobile experience possible,” said Peter Chou, chief executive officer, HTC Corporation.
The press release appears to be a reminder of HTC's ability to innovate to anyone who doubts it. It quite proudly points out “HTC’s technology firsts” that include the first Windows PDA (1998), first 3G CDMA EVDO smartphone (October 2005), first Google Android smartphone and first 4G WIMAX smartphone (November 2008).
An unsuspecting Vodafone customer got quite a nasty surprise when she got her new HTC Magic (MyTouch 3G in the states). Upon plugging it into her Windows PC, Panda Antivirus sounded the alarm. It turns out that the new phone contained several malware programs including an installer for the Mariposa botnet.
This wasn’t just any poor soul, lost in the wilds of technology though. Nope, the victim of this sneak attack works for Panda Security. As you can imagine, her coworkers were terribly interested in the phone. Closer examination showed an autorun.inf and autorun.exe that would load the malware on any PC the phone was plugged into. Panda confirmed that the botnet was active, and when installed the software “phoned home” for instructions. They also found a Confiker variant and a password stealer.
Vodafone recently discontinued the Magic, so after current stocks are sold out no one will need fear the phone baddies. Well, until the next time this happens. So how did a Spanish hacker group get their malware on this phone? And more importantly, are more phones affected? It seems unlikely there was just one infected phone, and that it happened to be sold to a Panda employee.
In a statement that sounds all too familiar, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: “We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.” Reminiscent of its current battle with Nokia, Apple will fight this one out concurrently in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
Case in point is HTC’s highly regarded HD2 touchscreen smartphone. A nice little device with a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, a high resolution capacitive touch display, and a five megapixel camera. But, the HD2 has five buttons--Windows Phone 7 says three and no more. No Windows Phone 7 for the HD2!
It is suspected, perhaps, that the HD2 fails in some other ways as well. It’s hard to say, exactly, because the Microsoft hasn’t made public the hardware requirements for Windows Phone 7. That’s expected to happen this month at the MIX developer conference in Las Vegas. Whatever the case, any legacy hardware that doesn’t meet these requirements is going to be left behind.
What little solace Windows Mobile 6.5 users have is that Microsoft says it won’t abandon them. An upgrade, to version 6.5.3, is expected before rebranding to Windows Phone Classic. And Windows Phone Classic will stick around for the “budget-minded smartphone buyer”.
If it makes sense for laptop makers to think small, it also makes sense for smartphone makers to think big. Such appears the case with High Tech Computer (HTC), the world’s largest manufacturer of Android and Windows Mobile smartphones. Rumor has it HTC may be branching up into tablets and netbooks.
It appears that HTC has been busy working on technologies for applications used in smartphones, and piecing together an app store--not to use now, but sometime in the future. Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, confirmed HTC’s activities in comments made at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Chou added there’s nothing ready yet, and HTC isn’t certain what it will do with the apps or the app store, if it does anything at all.
Chou also said that HTC has been actively designing tablets and netbooks, but he cautions this doesn’t mean HTC intends to go to market. Said Chou: “We will design, we will study, we will research, but that doesn't mean we will do it.” Chou noted if HTC does get into the tablet/netbook markets it will do so with a partner.
The Nexus One's sleek design seems to scream quality from almost every angle, but if you still need some convincing you should check out Google's Nexus One video series documenting the design and testing process. The videos break down how the OLED screen works, why 3D acceleration is so important, and perhaps most interesting of all, how hard it is to actually destroy it.
The third video in the series dubbed simply as "testing" shows the phone being pressed, dropped, smashed, crushed, and mauled so horribly that its border line gadget abuse. Either way it should certainly give those who own, or are thinking about purchasing the Nexus One the warm and fuzzy feeling that it has been built to last.
Click the jump to check out the video, its pretty impressive. If you baby your gadgets as much as I do however, it might make you squirm a bit.
With all the buzz around tablets this year, it seemed natural that HTC would get into the game. Just as more details were starting to leak out, someone decided they were getting a bit ahead of themselves, and the project has been suspended. Rumor had it that one of the proposed tablets would be running Google’s Chrome OS. HTC is said to have built several functional prototypes based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.
It seems likely that HTC thought it was more prudent to see how the tablet landscape looks after a certain Cupertino tech company has their say. HTC has stated their intention to "[focus] their efforts on a new generation of mobile phones". This probably means Android and Windows Mobile 7. Maybe after the dust settles, HTC will see an opening in the market. However, the longer they wait, the more crowded the field will be.
AT&T finally seems ready to admit that this whole Android thing isn’t just a flash in the pan. The carrier that brought you the iPhone will be launching five Android phones in the first half of 2010. The announcement was a bit short on details, but there were some clues as to which handsets to expect.
AT&T plans to offer a Motorola handset with a “unique form factor”. This can only be the Moto Backflip we told you about recently. This phone is “blessed” with an awkward looking reverse clamshell design and a lack of Google apps (in the prerelease version at least). The announcement also said Dell’s first smartphone would be coming to the network. That clearly means a version of the Mini 3i with US 3G bands.
The remaining phones are to be HTC devices. No details on what these might be. Knowing HTC’s penchant for repackaging the same hardware, these phones could end up being variations of the Hero. We may see some of the phones spied in the leaked roadmap from a few weeks back. Any AT&T customers planning to buy into the Android craze?
We always take leaked information with a healthy grain of salt, though in this case, it's worth noting that HTC's leaked 2009 lineup turned out to largely true. It's déjà vu for HTC all over again, as the company's 2010 lineup has been leaked to the web.
There are 10 new smartphones in all, with both Windows Mobile and Android devices broken up into four categories: Design / Lifestyle, Social, Performance, and Productivity. And naturally it's the Performance category that's going to draw the attention from power users. According to the roadmap, only one smartphone will fall under this designation. The 'Bravo,' as it's being called, will support DivX playback and 720p video capture through a 5MP AF cam with flash. It will also boast a 3.7-inch AMOLED display and Qualcomm Snapdragon chip racing along at 1GHz. Look for this one to ship sometime in April.
What's interesting about the list is that HTC has seemingly positioned all of its upcoming WinMo devices under the Productivity heading, while Android roams freely about the other categories.
View detailed specs of all 10 upcoming smartphones here.