HTC in race to put out first Windows Mobile 6 handset

Taiwanese handset maker High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) is racing to put out the first smart phone based on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile 6 OS, a company representative said Wednesday.

HTC announced the S710 at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona as its first Windows Mobile 6 handset and likely one of the first globally. But the competition is on, and HTC believes that rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. could beat it to the punch.

A loss in the race to market by HTC could be viewed as a victory for Microsoft. For years, HTC has championed Windows Mobile software on its smartphones, while other companies eschewed the OS as too slow or bulky. But HTC's sales have taken off over the past few years, attracting the notice of a number of rivals, which have started marketing Windows Mobile-based handsets. The steady development of the OS and its tie-ins to Microsoft's desktop software are strong reasons for adoption of the OS on mobile devices.

In the latest generation of the software, Windows Mobile 6, Microsoft has improved the speed of its direct e-mail push technology to better compete with Research In Motion Ltd.'s popular BlackBerry service.

Microsoft has also ensured Windows Mobile 6 takes advantage of features of Exchange Server 2007, including allowing users to search through a greater number of e-mails and allowing a remote user to wipe all Exchange Server-fed data from a device if it is lost or stolen. Windows Mobile 6 is the first mobile OS to take advantage of these features.

Other features make Windows Mobile 6 work better with Microsoft Outlook.

HTC hopes to ship the S710 handset to Europe in the first quarter, but the timing of the launch could be the second quarter, an HTC representative said. Earlier, the company said it was targeting shipments in the first half of this year.

The HTC S710 has a numeric keypad and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and has a 2.4-inch color TFT-LCD (thin-film transistor liquid crystal display) screen.

Thanks to brisk sales of Microsoft Windows Mobile handsets, HTC's revenue rose 46 percent year-on-year last year to NT$106.1 billion (US$3.26 billion as of Dec. 31, 2006, the last day of the period reported).

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