During the recent HTC Beats Party in Kuala Lumpur, we had a chance to rub shoulders with Wayne Tang, the Product Marketing Manager, Southeast Asia to answer a few questions about HTC Beats and upcoming HTC devices.
AA: Why HTC & Beats?
WT: HTC, being a rising brand in terms of smartphones, we recognize that music is something that is very important. Music groups the whole community together. Music breaks through cultural, racial and the language barrier boundaries. This has been a realization within HTC, and through Beats, it is executed to be a reality. A lot of companies realized the same importance of music, but none have come up with a solution to this market need.
AA: What are your plans with Beats?
WT: At HTC, we have a whole masterplan to drive our vision of music. With HTC devices, we bundled in Beats headsets and work closely with them. We also bought shares into Beats, and we invest heavily in them – also because we recognize them. Next, we want to establish a complete ecosystem in music content. We are also bringing together music content on HTC Music – something similar to HTC Watch. However, HTC Listen isn’t ready right now. Existing customers ought not to worry as they can already enjoy good music on HTC Phones’ music player app and Beats headsets.
AA: Which HTC devices support Beats Audio?
WT: In South East Asia, Beats is available on the HTC Sensation XE and HTC Sensation. Apart from Beats Audio support, these 2 devices also carry larger screens as compared to competing devices. The Sensation XL has a 4.7 inch WVGA display and runs on a single core processor.
AA: The Sensation XL is a single core device – why should I consider this device?
WT: The Sensation XL carries an improved camera – a f 2.2 lens, wide angle 20mm and a BSI sensor inside. It also has a HDR and panoramic function built in. It’s light and despite being 4.7”, it fits well in your pocket. It comes bundled with the Beats headset as well – which makes it an ideal entertainment device on-the-go. We did a camera test with the Sensation XL & the Galaxy S2, and although photography looks better on the Super Amoled Plus screen, the test showed the Sensation XL display colours to be truer to life.
AA: Does the Beats headset work with existing Beats headsets in the market?
WT: Our devices work with the bundled Beats headset, as well as other Beats headsets in the market. Whenever you plug in a Beats headsets into these phones, you’ll see the Beats logo appear on your phone. The Beats DSP configuration will automatically enable Beats Audio for you. If you plug in an ordinary 3rd party non-Beats headset, it will also work, but without Beats Audio enabled.
AA: What devices will get the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade in the year 2012?
WT: I can’t officially comment on that, but HTC always ensure that our high end devices will get the latest updates on Android. There will be more devices in the future running Ice Cream Sandwich with Beats Audio integration. As far as we are concerned, we want as many of our devices to have Beats Audio.
AA: What is HTC’s focus in 2012?
WT: HTC has for the past 2 years – in 2010 & 2011 – launched as many as 14 devices – which makes about one device every month. There are brands that have only 1 or 2 devices per year, and we want to strategize our products with the best functionality and value to the consumers. Hence, you might not see that many devices from HTC in the coming years.
AA: Will there be more Beats accessories in the future?
WT: HTC has not been an accessory driven brand, unlike Nokia. We are improving our existing form of accessories to make sure they are good enough, but we are not likely to integrate Beats beyond headsets at the moment.
AA: Will HTC tie-up with celebrities in the way Beats tie-up with artists?
WT: It is good to tap on these celebrities, however the current red tape does not allow us to immediately do this, but we are exploring this possibility. A tie-in with artists like Lady Gaga would be beneficial with HTC, however, we can’t say if it’s a possibility right now.
AA: ASUS is launching a Tegra 3 Quad Core tablet in early 2012. As for the HTC Flyer, there isn’t any successor to that device available. How is HTC responding to aggressive competitors in the tablet market?
WT: HTC recently updated the HTC Flyer to Honeycomb 3.2 and we are bringing that same update to this region as well. In 2012, we would not give up in the tablet segment, but we have removed tablets from our focus, and we still want to win with our devices in this segment.
AA: HTC also markets WP7 devices. How will this impact HTC in 2012?
We have a HTC Radar launching with the Mango update, but there will not be any Beats integration at the moment. Microsoft exacts a huge portion of control on the OS, and we are exploring how we will add Beats to those devices.
AA: Will HTC decide to go with Meego or WebOS in the near future?
WT: Not in the near future.
Generally, we walked away slightly disappointed, knowing that HTC is secretive about their future plans. Apart from the Public Relations answers we received, we could only conclude that there will be more HTC Android with Beats audio in the near future. Although HTC says that Beats is merely software based integration (DSP), it is surprising that HTC hesitated to bring Beats to OLDER devices. HTC did have a bumpy 2011, having SGS2 slashing their marketshare, and their Q4 shipments slashed, though I must sincerely question if Beats will help HTC succeed further. Until that day happens, we wouldn’t know for sure.