HTC: Running out of tricks?

Once you get past that first day gadget lust coverage of HTC's latest smartphones and first tablet will you remember any of these devices? Probably not.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

HTC for the last year and change has been a mobile darling. The company is the fastest growing device maker and has carried the flag for Android.

The momentum has been impressive. However, I'm beginning to wonder if HTC is running out of tricks. Why?

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HTC unveiled its first real tablet entry---the HTC Flyer. This pup has a 7-inch screen and runs Android 2.3 as well as the company's Sense software. The big draw here is that HTC put its innovation into so called Scribe Technology, which gives you a good pen experience to take notes and draw pictures.

Now Scribe may get some folks like Matthew Miller interested, but the Flyer seems very me-too. It's another 7-inch Android tablet that doesn't appear to be ready to challenge Apple's iPad. HTC CEO Peter Chou says in a statement:

"We are progressing down a path as an industry when people will no longer be in a single device paradigm, but have multiple wireless devices for different needs; this is the direction we are moving."

I'm a bit underwhelmed. Is this HTC or Dell?

To be fair, we have to see the Flyer up close to form a definitive impression, but on paper it's so-so. If you really want to get my attention price it at $299.

HTC's smartphone announcement was also more of the same. HTC announced three new smartphones with its latest Sense software. It's very evolutionary. Toss in two smartphones that revolve around one-button access to Facebook and you round out the continuum.

Here's the question that lingers for me: Once you get past that first day gadget lust coverage will you remember any of these devices? Probably not. If you did a find and replace on the HTC statements you could easily replace them with other vendors. My working theory is that HTC had an early jump in 2010, but now is up against a very formidable Samsung, which has its Galaxy franchise. Meanwhile, Motorola is pushing the envelope a little with the Atrix at AT&T.

HTC may be in for a much more competitive 2011.

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