Smartphone fans suffering from innovation fatigue, says HTC chief


Smartphone manufacturers need to work hard to convince jaded consumers that their products are "still relevant", a senior executive at mobile producer HTC has said.

Dr Florian Seiche said he was worried consumers were beginning to be underwhelmed by advances in smartphone technology and said his company has been putting a lot of effort into making sure it can "communicate the benefits" of new features because, he said, "it is important to us to remind people who are not convinced that they need a smartphone that the steps we are taking forward are worth it".

The company's President in Europe, the Middle East and Africa said he felt the industry needs to "keep people interested", adding: "It is not about innovation for technology's sake but innovation because it is what people want. For us, success is to provide something extra and to convince people that it is still relevant."

He was speaking ahead of the launch of HTC's new "flagship device", the HTC Sensation XL, which, like its predecessor the HTC Sensation XE, is integrated with rapper and producer Dr Dre's Beats Audio hardware and software.

Dr Seiche said: "When we originally launched, we said that we were moving towards multi-media, eventually. The first step was to make phones which had all of the features people wanted available and to make sure the communication functions worked. Now, the second step is to move beyond that and give consumers a great multi-media experience. For example, we are not content to simply have a working camera, but want one which rivals a handheld camera. It is not just about ticking the boxes of things you have on there. Music, in particular, is a great angle for us."

The new phone, which will be available in the UK from early November, is 9.9mm in depth, which is slightly larger than Apple's new incarnation of the iPhone, the 4S. The company said that customers can also send music recommendations and track information to friends over SMS, email or through their Facebook profile and the phone includes HTC Watch, an app which allows users to access an "entire library of the latest premium movies and TV shows". The handset also has an 8 megapixel camera and a 4.7 inch display.

Dr Seiche was unable to say how many the company was expecting to sell but said the launch was "a big deal, it is a flagship launch for us".

He said: "We have this name for traditional smartphone users: ‘Geek Expressionistas'. In the UK this year, we expect 70 per cent of all new phones sold to be smartphones, but almost half phone-owners do not yet own them. You can only appreciate the value when you use one every day and when it just works the way it should work."

The phone runs on the open source Android operating system. Addressing potential security issues, Dr Seiche said: "Of course, there is always a trade-off between openness and security risks but Android is a very good and secure platform for users. If you give more freedom and provide a more open ecosystem, then on both sides you need the awareness and education to keep data secure.

"We want to provide products for every sector of the market but one thing we are really conscious of is not compromising on the quality. If your phone is very nice looking but it doesn't work, no-one is going to buy your next one."

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