CES: HTC lauds Apple iPhone, but won't mimic it

The president of High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC), the world's largest maker of Microsoft Windows mobile phones, thinks Apple Inc.'s new iPhone is "pretty innovative," but his company has no plans to put out a similar product.

Apple launched the iPhone earlier this week to rave initial reviews. The new handset comes with a touch screen, has iPod capabilities for playing music, handles GPS (global positioning system) and carries a host of other functions. Although it's not due out until June, it caused quite a stir, sending Apple's stock soaring and causing the shares of many mobile phone makers to tumble.

Shares of HTC, for example, dropped 4.1 percent to NT$590 (US$18) in Taipei Wednesday over fears that users will choose the iPhone over HTC's smart phone products. Other companies, such as BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., also saw their shares decline.

"It's a pretty eye-catching design," said Peter Chou, president and chief executive officer of HTC, during an interview at the International Consumer Electronics Show, but "we have our own cool stuff coming out as well."

HTC has no plans to follow Apple into the music-handset business, he said, and nor will his company try to mimic the new design. HTC has also not been in discussions with Microsoft Corp. over a Zune mobile phone, he said. HTC has been a longtime Microsoft partner in the mobile phone and PDA (personal digital assistant) business.

"We need to differentiate ourselves. We will not be successful if we are a copy cat," he said.

Unlike some other Taiwanese manufacturers, HTC does not have a history of producing cheap imitations of successful devices. The company has made its name creating Microsoft-based smart phones and other high-end handsets for mobile phone operators around the world, including Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc. and T-Mobile USA Inc.

The company plans to continue adding Internet and computing capabilities to handsets, and Chou said his company will beef-up its product design as well. HTC already has a design center in the U.S. and it will also outsource some mobile phone design work to U.S. and European companies.

"We need to leverage global talent," he said.

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