Report: HTC to open own app store

Taiwan handset maker is reportedly planning own app store and hiring new employees, with plans to expand team worldwide, according to a Financial Times report.

Taiwan smartphone manufacturer HTC is reportedly planning to launch a mobile app store selling e-books and applications, and has aims to expand the initial Taiwan team to other parts of the world, according to a new report.

On Monday, Financial Times reported an unnamed source as saying that HTC is undertaking to launch a Web store for its mobile phones. The store will sell e-books, magazines and mobile applications, according to the report.

The source also added that the handset maker has been recruiting content editors for the online store, with intentions to grow the initial home-based team to about 100 employees globally.

Another source was reported as saying that the outfit will likely be involved in expanding HTC's cloud service,, which launched in September. allows users to synchronize their handset to a cloud service and includes functions such as remotely locking the device or wiping all data off it, as well as forwarding calls and text messages.

If the reports hold true, HTC's new app store will be joining the league of other handset makers with app marketplaces, such as Apple, Nokia, Research in Motion, and Samsung.

While HTC will not be competing head-on with brand-specific mobile app stores, the company will have to battle it out those powered by mobile operating system makers such as Microsoft with its Windows Phone Marketplace and Google with its Android Market, as all of HTC's handsets are built on these mobile OS.

On top of that, HTC will be facing off third-party app stores such as Getjar and, as well as marketplaces set up by telecom operators.

Increasingly, it has become crucial for handset makers to differentiate themselves using applications and services, noted a Gartner analyst. In a previous ZDNet Asia report, Gartner research director of semiconductor research, Jon Erensen, pointed out that current smartphone makers build a skin on top of the mobile OS as a way to differentiate themselves.

However, this will become much harder to do in the future as not just Microsoft but Google is reportedly contemplating plans to enforce a standard user interface for phone manufacturers that deploy Android.

Applications, services and content will be important for these smartphone makers, said Erensen. The current market leader in providing mobile services and content is Apple, although Google Android has helped smartphone makers to narrow this gap, he added.