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HTC Expanding Into Connected Devices, Entertainment in 2015

HTC doesn't want to be just a smartphone company anymore.

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After a couple of years of streamlining its product line, HTC spent much of last year broadening its offerings, and the company plans to go even bigger in 2015.

At CES, HTC announced that it’s expanding into connected devices (think smart home, Internet of Things) and entertainment. HTC didn’t have any specific products to show here in Las Vegas, but said it will develop both hardware and software for the categories. Consumers should see the first products start to roll out this year, though the company didn’t get any more specific with timing.

HTC also reiterated its commitment to the digital imaging and wearables space. Last year, the company released its first action camera called the Re, and a whole family of products is planned for the line. On the wearables side, HTC announced on Tuesday a partnership with Under Armour to develop wearables to work with the sporting goods company’s new UA Record fitness app.

By branching out into these categories, HTC hopes to transform itself from just a smartphone company to a personal tech company. Of course, the company still plans to focus on smartphones, creating flagship devices for its One series while offering more affordable, mid-range handsets through its Desire line.

This week HTC posted its third straight quarter of profitability, reporting a fourth-quarter profit of about $14.7 million. But the company isn’t out of the woods yet, and still faces stiff competition from the likes of Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi. Which raises the question, it it wise for the company to expand into other categories, when it’s just getting its footing back in the smartphone world?

“That’s a fair question, but I think the reality is that we have to do these things,” said Drew Bamford, vice president of the HTC Creative Labs group in an interview with Re/code. “Not because we’re going to run out of money at any moment but because no matter how well we do on the phones, we recognize that in the medium to long term, it’s important for HTC to be in these other categories.”

Bamford acknowledged that it would be a challenge for the company to be successful in these new markets. But from a company culture standpoint, working in these new categories has reenergized the company.

“It’s going to be very difficult, I think, for HTC to make great phones and great emerging devices and great software and services, but it’s just a challenge we have to take on,” said Bamford. “And HTC has never shied away from risks and challenge, so we’re diving into it head first and we’re having a lot with fun it.”

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