HTC’s slow-motion fall from smartphone grace will reportedly continue in 2022, with the company said to be working on a new “metaverse”-focused phone in April, as the company remnants of once flagship smartphones continue to desperately cling to whatever. zeitgeist term that can stay afloat, according to DigiTimes.
The news comes from Charles Huang, HTC’s general manager for the Asia-Pacific region, who reportedly commented at MWC 2022 that the company would introduce a new high-end smartphone next month with unspecified “metaverse” features. Details are scant, including the specs, the markets it will launch in, or even what kind of AR or VR features the new device will offer.
The news sounds a lot like HTC’s latest major swing into relevance: its Exodus line of blockchain phones that’s been on offer for the past few years. With promising decentralized applications (“Dapps”) and a built-in cryptocurrency wallet, the phones could run blockchain nodes and even mine negligible amounts of cryptocurrency, but, like many instances of blockchain technology, it was a workaround. much of it in search of a problem that never really took off.
For argument’s sake, a metaverse phone would make at least a little more sense than a blockchain one, if only because HTC has been a major player in the VR space.
HTC’s headline announcement at MWC 2022 was the debut of a hazy “Viverse,” the company’s metaverse concept that promises to meld VR, XR, 5G, blockchain technology, NFTs, and more into a futuristic new platform.
It’s even possible to imagine what an embedded smartphone could look like in the metaverse, given the existence of projects like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces or Microsoft Mesh, which aim to help integrate traditional devices like smartphones into virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.
In that sense, a high-end HTC “metaverse” phone could be one that ties deeply into the company’s VR headset for an integrated cross-device experience that boldly changes the way we think about smartphone (and other) use. devices) in virtual environments. .
That being said, the phone from the metaverse could also be a mediocre smartphone that has some half-baked VR apps preloaded. For what it’s worth, HTC’s Vivese site explicitly says that one will be able to interact with its metaverse concept from “any phone, tablet, PC, or VR headset,” complete with an image of a smartphone that appears to be doing just that.
Given that HTC’s Viverse doesn’t actually exist, nor does the widespread adoption of any modern metaverse concept, it’s easy for the company to simply say it’s building a metaverse phone or app. After all, who’s to say you’re not?
Perhaps the metaverse phone HTC is releasing is a revelation, the kind of product that makes HTC relevant again and puts the company back at the forefront of the industry. But the recent history of the company does not give much hope that this will be the case.
It’s almost hard to remember in 2022, but HTC used to make good phones: devices for both Android and different versions of Windows Phone that were some of the best hardware you could buy. Phones like the legendary HTC HD2, the HTC Evo 4G, the HTC One X, the ultra-sleek HTC One or the jewel-toned HTC U11.
But that was, in many ways, a different company than HTC today, before the company sold a good chunk of its smartphone talent to Google in a $1.1 billion deal in 2017. Since then, Pixel phones Google’s have only gotten better and better, while HTC’s smartphone fortunes have languished.
Despite its hardware chops, HTC, like LG, Motorola (before its own trials and tribulations with Google), and other Android device makers, was unable to find lasting commercial success, squeezed out of Samsung’s most popular Galaxy devices in one end and Apple’s. iPhones on the other.
And that brings us to today’s HTC: emptying out the engineers and designers who once made its phones so cool, frantically flailing around blockchain phones, metaverse phones, and whatever other major buzzwords come next to stay afloat in a smartphone market that barely resembles the one in which it was a major player.
It’s not that HTC is completely devoid of ambition or good products: the company still produces high-end VR headsets aimed at businesses and recently launched its unique-looking Vive Flow headset for more casual customers too.
Then again, looking back at products like the Evo 3D or Facebook-focused HTC Status and HTC First, it’s possible that being doomed to chase tricks down the road to irrelevance has always been HTC’s fate.