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MWC: HTC unveils ‚Facebook’ and tablet devices

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HTC yesterday announced what Peter Chou, its CEO, described as ‚the broadest lineup of phones we have ever announced at one time.‚ The company unveiled five Android smartphones plus its first tablet device, the HTC Flyer. STEVE COSTELLO lets us know what we can expect in the next few months.

Among the updated smartphone portfolio are two devices which feature a dedicated, ‚contextual‚ Facebook button, which has been integrated with a number of applications to enable one-touch content upload and sharing via the social networking site. One device the ChaCha, includes a QWERTY keypad as well as a small (2.6‚ ) touch screen, while its sibling, Salsa, is touch-screen (3.4 inch display) only.

ChaCha and Salsa will be available in ‚major European and Asian markets‚ in the second quarter, and HTC is also working exclusively with AT&T in the US for these products.

Chou said that HTC has undertaken significant work to differentiate the user experience of its first tablet both from rival products and smartphones, stating that ‚we are not interested in rushing out another me-too device.‚

Flyer has a 7-inch screen and is powered by a 1.5GHz processor, with an updated version of the company’s Sense user interface. It will be launched globally in the second quarter.

Supporting the launch of the tablet device, HTC also announced HTC Watch, a video download service it said ‚enables low-cost on-demand progressive downloading of hundreds of high-definition movies from major studios.‚ It will also support cloud-based gaming services from OnLive, a company HTC recently made a significant investment in.

Rounding-out the portfolio are three updates to existing HTC devices: Desire S, Wildfire S and Incredible S, each of which includes HTC’s Sense user interface. Wildfire S was described as ‚one of HTC’s smallest phones ever,‚ while Desire S and Incredible S offer a fuller feature set. All three products are set for release in Europe and Asia during the second quarter.

According to Chou, in 2010 HTC shipped 25 million devices, more than double the year before. It also began shipments this week of its first LTE smartphone, ThunderBolt, to Verizon Wireless, stating that ‚we will be shipping more 4G smartphones when our customers want to roll out their networks.‚

The company did not announce any new handsets powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform, despite having been a launch partner for this OS.

In his Keynote session at Congress shortly after the handset launch, Chou responded to Microsoft’s alliance with Nokia by noting that ‚we are positive because this combination, we are sure, will make the Windows Phone ecosystem stronger.‚

– Story courtesy Mobile World Congress Show Daily

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