Update, 2:52PM EST: The video was taken down from Vimeo and Shaun Saperstein’s website (you can still see it in on Evan Blass’ Twitter feed). That makes it seem like the video was not supposed to be publicized.
Original post, 09:10AM EST: HTC’s smartphone business is in dire need of a reboot, but the company’s other big venture – virtual reality – is actually growing steadily. It wouldn’t be surprising therefore that HTC would want to use the Vive brand to boost its smartphone lineup.
According to media leaked by Evan Blass, that’s exactly what we should expect from HTC in 2017. Provided that the video below is real and accurate, and not just a design concept or experiment, HTC appears to be preparing a Vive smartphone.
HTC 2017? pic.twitter.com/ppONWlT5Mr
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 8, 2017
The phone’s design is a fresh take on the antenna lines trope we’ve been seeing so much from HTC, Apple, and other companies over the past years. It’s not clear if the lines on the sides are functional or just cosmetic, but the styling is a welcome departure from HTC’s design language from current devices.
The Vive smartphone makes an appearance in a promotional video that purports to give us a sneak peak of an initiative called “CMF Kitchen.”
In product design, CMF stands for Color Material Finish. So a CMF kitchen would be a place where designers play with various colors and textures for products – and that’s exactly what the video is depicting.
The clip decries the lack of originality in modern phone design and gives us a “sneak peek” of three ways HTC us innovating in this field: “chemicals,” “super fibers” and “litmus.” It looks like the company is experimenting with funky colors and novel finishes, moving away from the silvers, blacks, and golds that are so prevalent today.
The video is high production value and it definitely looks like something that HTC would produce to tease its products. The problem is this video wasn’t obtained by Evan Blass from some inside source at HTC. The video has actually been publicly available online for over six months.
A Google search for “HTC CMF Kitchen” reveals that the video was first published in June 2016 on Vimeo by videographer Shaun Saperstein. According to his Linkedin profile, Saperstein has been employed as a visual/motion designer at HTC until June 2016. Saperstein is the author of another concept video that Evan Blass tweeted out today:
This second clip has been published four days ago on Saperstein’s YouTube channel. It shows the same “side control” interface that we’ve seen in a different concept video for a device called HTC Ocean, from Danelle Vermeulen, another graphic designer with HTC. That video leaked out in September 2016.
We’ve reached out to Saperstein to inquire about the videos and we’ll update if we hear back.
In the meantime, take the HTC Vive smartphone, the CMF kitchen, and Ocean with a big grain of salt. It’s hard to believe that HTC would allow its designers to openly share internal materials, especially ones that reveal flagship phones. It’s not impossible, it’s just more likely that the videos we’ve seen are side projects made for the designer’s personal portfolio. That’s how Shaun Saperstein is using the video on his personal website.
Let us know your thoughts!