Tomorrow, we expect Nokia to announce its latest Windows Phone devices at Mobile World Congress, but while HTC held its main MWC press conference today, there was no sign of any new Windows Phone hardware in its announcements. In fact, it appears that we shouldn’t expect any new HTC Windows Phones any time soon.
Speaking with Pocket-lint, HTC’s chief product officer, Kouji Kodera was asked if the company planned to release a new Windows Phone device as part of its new One series of handsets, which it launched earlier today. Kodera’s response: “For Windows Phone, we haven’t decided on the branding yet, but you will see a new range of Windows Phones from us when Microsoft release their new Apollo operating system”.
The clear implication there is that the next HTC hardware with Microsoft’s mobile OS will arrive with Windows Phone 8, also known by its ‘Apollo’ codename, arrives towards the end of the year. Perhaps supporting the notion that HTC’s existing Windows Phone range will soldier on for a bit longer, Kodera added that the TITAN II will soon break its AT&T exclusivity, heading to international LTE markets. The fact that no LTE-free version will be offered also implies that HTC is no longer developing hardware for pre-Apollo Windows Phone releases.
There are a couple of interesting bits to take away from all of this. First, it appears that HTC is taking an approach similar to Samsung (Galaxy/Omnia) and Nokia (Asha/Lumia) in consolidating its product branding around specific operating systems, with HTC’s Android devices coming under the new 'One’ umbrella; as Kodera stated, though, the company hasn’t yet decided what brand it will apply to its Windows Phone range.
Second, if we’re reading this correctly, and HTC is indeed holding off on introducing new Windows Phones until Apollo is released, it raises a lot of questions. For example, does it mean that Windows Phone 8 will represent a significant departure from its predecessor, such that hardware designed and optimised for the OS will make a big difference? Could it imply that there’s little point in buying a Windows Phone today, with Apollo due in the next six months or so? Could it be that HTC feels it’s taken the current OS version as far as it can go, and is hoping to making a bigger splash with Windows Phone 8?
There are more questions than answers at the moment, and only some of the gaps will be filled in over the next few days at MWC, with the spotlight expected to fall on Windows Phone ‘Tango’, an interim update before Apollo that will open up the OS to lower price points and a greater number of markets.