2 smartphone makers entangled in patent suits
Jack Tong, president of HTC North Asia, talks about its long-term evolution (LTE) Raiderbranded smartphone during a launch event at a Seoul hotel, Wednesday. / Yonhap
By Kim Yoo-chul
HTC, Asia’s No. 2 smartphone maker, is confident of defeating Apple in an ongoing patent fight, a senior HTC executive said.
The Taiwan-based phone maker has sued Apple in a federal court in Delaware, claiming infringements of four of the patents obtained from Google and originally issued to Motorola before it split into Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions.
HTC’s hard-line stance against Apple has drawn attention as the Taiwanese handset maker is a member of the so-called ``Google alliance’’ with Samsung Electronics, which is also fighting Apple over patents in Europe and Asia.
``We have no question that HTC will definitely win,’’ said Jack Tong, president of HTC North Asia in a press conference with South Korean reporters at an event to unveil its advanced LTE-based smartphone at a Seoul hotel, Wednesday.
``HTC is waiting for a final ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) and the ruling will be on our side,’’ the senior company executive said.
It is the first time for HTC to make clear remarks about the current patent fight with Apple, according to HTC and industry officials.
The USITC is currently reviewing HTC’s claim over patent infringement by Apple.
The USITC has the key bargaining power to block imports into the United States and has become a popular venue for patent disputes with companies viewing it as a way of choking their competitors’ product supply.
``HTC will be more active in defending our intellectual properties,’’ according to the executive.
Although Samsung and HTC are both fighting Apple, their strategies are quite different. Samsung is handling the issue on its own, however, Google’s direct involvement in helping HTC represents a new front in disputes over smartphone technologies that have also ensnared Android customers.
``If HTC wins in the United States, that will also affect the Samsung-Apple case, on Samsung’s side,’’ said an unnamed source inside Samsung Electronics.
Own mobile platform
HTC admits that it plans to develop its own mobile operating system (OS), joining an industry-wide trend.
``We’ve opened many doors. But HTC will also strengthen traditional ties with our existing partners Microsoft and Google,’’ said the executive.
To better compete with Apple’s iOS, Samsung Electronics is rolling out more smartphone using its own mobile platform called Bada, which means ocean in Korean.
HTC, however, was on a slippery slope in terms of its development phase in its own OS as it would lack available applications.
If the HTC OS turns out to be a complete failure, analysts think it could be catastrophic for the firm. HTC sees Samsung Electronics as its biggest rival.
An uncompetitive and content-lacking OS would set HTC back and undoubtedly drag down its brand loyalty.
HTC recently released its Raider-branded smartphone that supports advanced long-term evolution (LTE) technonlogy.
The new device features a 4.5-inch LCD IPS-based LCD screen and is good for social networking services, according to the company.
``SK Telecom approached us to develop a LTE-based phone and the Raider phone is the result,’’ said the executive, adding its partnership with SK Telecom and SK’s rival KT is quite solid. The phone will be released via SK Telecom.
``HTC is positive to see more revenue, here,’’ he said.
The Taiwanese company also said it will improve its after-sales (AS) service to better serve South Korean customers.
HTC will extend its AS periods to local HTC phone users to two years from the previous one year.
Korea is regarded as a tomb for foreign handset makers, at least except Apple, because the local market is dominated by Samsung Electronics and Apple, followed by LG Electronics and Pantech.
``We will boost our corporate image in South Korea with more customer-friendly policies,’’ said the executive.
With the release of HTC’s LTE-based smartphone, the first of its kind here, Samsung Electronics will release the LTE-based Galaxy S II later this month, according to Samsung officials.
LG Electronics and Pantech will follow suit. SK Telecom, the nation’s biggest telecom carrier, will hold a press conference on Sept. 21 to unveil its new LTE-enabled smartphone, said SK Telecom in a statement.