Nexus 9 Magic Cover-15

HTC may be interested in launching an affordable tablet, following its return to the market with the Nexus 9.

Talking to Chinese media at the Taiwan launch of the One M9+, HTC North Asia boss Jack Tong said the company is “looking closely” at the entry-level and mid-tier tablet market.

“There is less room for product differentiation and a fierce price war, so we must be very cautious about running that business. We will see if we can get better returns on smartphones or other businesses. But we are looking closely at it,” Tong said.

Tong did not confirm or deny that HTC has an affordable tablet coming down the pike, but his statement is a reversal from what he said in November, when he hinted that HTC was interested in the upper segment of the market.

Tong’s comment seems to be related to a rumor started by @upleaks and picked up by several websites earlier this week. HTC is working on a low-end tablet device codenamed H7 that should launch in Q2 (by the end of June), according to @upleaks, who has a solid track-record with HTC rumors. No other details about the H7 are known.

HTC has long been rumored to be working on self-branded tablets, to profit from the positive exposure generated by the launch of the Google co-branded Nexus 9. We were expecting a new HTC tablet much sooner, to be honest; almost eight months after the Nexus 9’s release, HTC has done little to take advantage of the opportunity. In short, the Nexus 9 has not become the launch pad we hoped it would be.

Tablet sales are waning, as large smartphones are making them less interesting and laptops have refused to fade away, as post-PC theoreticians have predicted. Still, HTC can still reap some benefits out of the tablet business, especially now that the company is launching new product categories in order to wean itself off smartphones.

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