Dual-booting phones may be the change HTC needs
HTC is in a tough spot. The launch of the HTC One in early 2013 was a bold move for the company. HTC created a single flagship device in an effort to streamline its product line and cut down on expenses. The phone itself is a masterpiece of design and engineering, picking up multiple awards for “phone of the year” and putting the Galaxy S4 to shame. To date, the HTC One has been the most successful handset HTC has ever built, but the phone has not been able to keep the company’s financial trajectory pointing in the right direction.
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft has asked HTC to install its Windows Phone operating system on HTC’s Android powered devices. The concept of a dual-booting smartphone isn’t exactly new, but the idea that Microsoft and HTC may be considering such a move may signal a dramatic shift in the may Microsoft and HTC go to market. Windows Phone currently accounts for 4-6% of smartphone market share – a number Microsoft needs to double or triple if it wants to be considered as a serious contender in the space. To sweeten the deal for HTC, Microsoft may waive or reduce the licensing fee on handsets which dual-boot with Android and Windows Phone. The benefit to Microsoft is obvious. Installing Windows Phone on HTC’s Android phones would allow them to gain a significant amount of market share without much effort. The benefit to HTC more complicated. HTC would be able to reduce its manufacturing costs since it would not have to develop and build separate hardware for its Android and Windows phone devices. The dual-booting phones would also deliver a higher value to consumers since they would have two ecosystems to choose from. Unfortunately, it’s hard to say if the perceived value of a dual-booting smartphone would translate into higher sales pictures for HTC.
If such a deal is reached between HTC and Microsoft, we could see the two companies partnering on a dual-booting Android and Windows RT tablet. Since HTC’s focus has always been the premium segment, it would be hard to create a device which could directly compete with the Nexus 7 on price. But again, consumers may be willing to pay a bit more for a tablet which can dual-boot two separate operating systems. Windows RT has not been well received by consumers or members of the press, but the platforms failures revolve around poor under-performing hardware and a lack of apps for consumers to choose from. HTC can certainly help on the hardware side and we’re seeing slow improvements on the apps side as move developers release Windows 8 apps.
HTC owes all of its early success to Microsoft and the company’s mobile operating systems. By returning to its roots, HTC may rediscover the magic that it once had and deliver truly amazing, delightful products.