HTC Looking To Create Their Own Operating System?


HTC is one of the only phone manufacturers that uses licensed, third-party operating systems exclusively for their handsets. They pioneered the Windows Mobile market and they’re currently doing the same with our dear Android. Times are changing, though, and HTC could be branching off and doing their own thing.

Earlier today, speaking with Bloomberg, HTC’s CFO Cheng Hui-ming said that having their own system would require “a few conditions to justify”.

cheng hui-ming

“There are many multiple factors to be considered together, rather than a simple statement as to own or not to own”

It’s clear that they’ve definitely considered it, but no move – or any indication of a move – has been made. HTC has drawn its long-term success thus far purely through third-party hardware support, so it kind of presents itself as a “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken” problem. If you take Palm – who moved from a third-party model back to creating and supporting their own WebOS – and consider their history, you begin to understand why any CFO (or any executive within HTC, for that matter) would be weary about pushing their own operating system.

Still, though, there does exist a very lucrative option if they do: HTC is still considered one of the top manufacturers said to be in the bidding for Palm’s ownership which is rumored to be up for sale. Not only does HTC get the desirable catalog of patents that Palm is holding onto, they also get an OS that’s already been crafted to deal with today’s smartphone needs: a multi-task-able, scalable, and feature-rich operating system that would be extremely attractive with the right hardware to back it.


None of this has been confirmed – not the rumors of Palm putting its company up for bids nor HTC concretely saying they will absolutely jump into the software game – but would this spell doom for Android on the hardware of its biggest supporter? Android still does have plenty of support from other manufacturers, of course: Samsung is one such company that – even with their own Operating System trying to gain traction – still relies on Android due to its seemingly limitless potential.

Is HTC unhappy with Android’s shortcomings? I know I’d be frustrated with all of the issues that come along with fragmentation when trying to put my own complex coat of paint over an operating system that moves at the speed of light in terms of incremental updates. Having their own operating system would be sure to drown that pitfall (even with Google working diligently toward solving the growing issue).

Would this make any of you guys pick your bags up and go elsewhere? Considering HTC did go the route with exclusively pushing their own OS, would you follow them due to their tried and true hardware or would you just find another manufacturer whose faith remains in Android?

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I would stay with Android, no question.

  2. man just thinking, htc with webos would be unstoppable, it would be a dream come true.

  3. WebOS would only be unstoppable if it is totally open for developers and other phone manufacturers.
    If it only is on HTC’s hardware, then it is just another iPhone, or Samsung TouchWiz, or Blackberry OS, etc. It’s not (as) attractive to developers because it then is just another minority OS.
    Android is expected to overtake iPhone precisely because it runs on everyone else’s hardware.
    Note: I’m not saying there is anything wrong with WebOS (or iPhone, TouchWiz or Blackberry for that matter). I’m just saying that being only on one brand of phone (or only a few carriers) makes it much less attractive to developers.

  4. I would pout the money into camera development for the phones. Android runs great.

  5. I’ve had my Droid for awhile now and I can say the only reason I rooted was because I was getting sick of waiting for new updates and such. I know what I’m about to say is going to stir a few people (don’t understand why people react so much) but, if Apple were to open iPhone to other carriers id consider getting one just because the os is way more polished than android and the updates come to every phone model at once not one here and one there. I love my Droid but I do think android has a lot that needs to be worked on.

  6. I think that this could be a good thing in the long run. This way they can now have full control every aspect of their phones software and hardware they can ensure everything works just how they want it to. Nomore having their hardware and visions being restricted by someone elses software.

    I think this is a big reason as to why they are looking into buying out Palm. Take WebOS, mix in some HTC flair and they would have a great full-on Sense OS rather then an add on for their already fantastic hardware.

  7. danny b i see your point, but just think of htc evo running palm webos with all the missing feature that is lacking on the pre in to it, man that would be sweet..

  8. wait a sec… they can’t get hardware right so now their going into software?? :\

  9. Intersting. If they did use webos, it could be pretty tough compition. I think the only true way to get webos out there is if they sold it to phone comapnies to use, or gave it for free, as has been done with android. Whatever they do, compition is welcome.

  10. HTC would be completely foolish to start developing their own OS. Their recent resurgence and gain is due in no small part to Android. To abandon or for that matter focus less attention on the OS that put you back on the map would be foolish. HTC should buy Palm and just market WebOS on HTC devices along with Android and WinMo/WP7. This way every OS, every carrier, every form factor. The can only win that way by providing the ultimate in CHOICE.

  11. @Don
    the reason it comes to everyone at once is because they release one update a year. If google starts their universal update schema where they do one major OS update a year and then does regular update of their software and drops it on the android market things would work out alot better. We have to remember that google has only been in the game for little over a year now with G1 where Apple has been doing this for about three years now.

  12. This is all just a matter of preference. I’m sticking with Android. No doubt about that. I’ve had zero problems with my G1 and it’s two years old. A lot of people here complain about this and that with Android but you’re going to run into little things that’ll make you complain with any phone you buy. Suck it up. It takes time for this kind of stuff to get dialed in.

    I personally think they should just stick to hardware and focus on making that supreme rather than throwing more complications into their mix.

  13. It makes me wonder just how far up tech people go in their company vs strictly business people. Tech people would know….they have their own OS right now. Its called Android. They aren’t really bound by Google. They can break away and do the same thing they would be doing anyway if they came up with their own which is lose the greater ecosystem.

    You can tell the tech oriented companies like IBM, Red Hat, Oracle and Google. They know how to balance a community effort with competition. Google knows how to take Ubuntu and hack it into their own highly efficient servers without having to be tied to Canonical at the hip. They do that rather than build their own OS and still benefit from the new things that come down the pipe for Linux by integrating them in.

    These phone companies on the other hand that keep hinting at their own OS don’t get it. I believe they look at the fact that everybody is getting the same starting point and they can’t pull ahead. But I assure you each one that goes off on their own will sink back into obscurity vs the iPhone. All the devs will probably go back to the iPhone. Nobody is going to want to maintain apps for all these different one off platforms. They are going to go back to concentrating on the market leader where they will get the most visibility. Android right now is projected to overtake the iPhone in sales and eventually in installed base so you can be sure your apps will be seen in mass.

    Moral of the story – Customize Android to your hearts content while not breaking the market. Thats the best way to stay alive and not find your smartphones classified as feature phones aka toys vs the iPhone.

  14. HTC OS = Fail squared. WTF is it with phone vendors dreaming up new OSes, is it some kind of prestige thing? Bada, Maemo, WebOS… all going the way of the dodo.

  15. lmfao… stop stop, please please, stop to made your own system everytime, is very very riddiculous.

  16. Let handset manufacturers build handsets and software developers develope software. It would be insane to dabble in something you don’t specialize in.

  17. What good is it to be part of the Open Handset Alliance if everyone has their own proprietary OS?

  18. Is this the same company that manufactured the G1 ? Oh yeah, they’re ready to go it on their own ! :-)

  19. webOS with HTC hardware and a bit of Sense tweaking would very, VERY hard to resist though I don’t know if I’d be able to give up on android like that. I’m more loyal to google than I am to HTC.

  20. The idea is brilliant. WebOS is still linux based, but as someone who has used both Android and WebOS, let me tell you, WebOS runs circles around android when it comes to usability. And the WebOS hacker community is not strong out there, they have been functioning with open support from Palm and have actually overclocked that cpu from 500 up to 800. THAT is how deep that community is. They dont reinvent the OS, they go in and add features. HTC has always put a nice face on bad OS, now maybe they can control the whole thing. I would love it, great hardware/software.

  21. I bought an Android phone. It just happened to be made by HTC. I even went so far as to get the first option that gave stock Android because I had no interest in dealing with manufacturer customizations. In essence I’m with whoever makes a Nexus with Google. If HTC goes there own way, I would not go with them.

  22. Android’s success (so far) owes just as much to HTC as Google, in my opinion. If HTC jumps ship to a different, but very functional in its own way OS, you better bet I’m jumping ship. Does anybody here actually think Motorola, Samsung, LG, or any of the others can hold a candle to HTC’s hardware production mastery? I want a sexy, powerful phone. HTC understands that. The others…. sometimes I wonder.

  23. I have a Palm Pre and the Nexus One. I can honestly say that WebOs is a much better operating system but the Pre hardware is a major let down.

  24. Oh please, not another one. Does anybody realize just how many mobile operating systems there are? In the desktop world, your choice is basically Mac, Windows, or some flavor of Linux. In the mobile world, you have:

    Windows Mobile/Phone
    Samsung Bada
    Nokia Maemo

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if I forgot one or two lesser-known ones. And then there’s the new Microsoft phones that were just announced that are running a yet unnamed OS (might not be Windows Mobile, but rather something new). That’s some serious fragmentation there. Seriously HTC, the marketplace cannot handle another OS. Any new players to the game now just are not going to fare well. If you want your own OS, then buy out Palm and make WebOS your own thing. Don’t make the worst decision ever and try to create your own OS. Although, if I were you, I’d stick with Android for now, because it’s cheap and highly customizable. Granted, it has shortcomings, but what platform doesn’t? The platform is still young, and has some growing to do, but it has huge potential.

  25. If they were to buy out Palm, it wouldn’t be “Another OS’
    It would be them improving on a pre-existing OS

  26. I myself am much more an HTC supporter then I am an Android supporter or a Google supporter. I’ve been with HTC long before Google or Apple even joined the mobile market.

    If HTC goes their own separate way, I’m sure to follow.
    I would LOVE to see an HTC with webOS (Sense OS?)

    Do I want them to just abandon Android? No. Whose to say that they cant make devices for the 3 platforms? They are the biggest contributer in making Android what it is today. I want to see where it’s future lies. Would I be upset if they left to work on webOS? No. I think it was the better OS to begin with. The hardware was it’s limiting factor and HTC of all people could easily reconcile that shortcoming.

  27. I think it’s more a case of HTC trying to buy themselves a defensive armoury of patents, for their fight against Apple. I am also guessing that should patents against Android get upheld by the Courts, WebOS will be their backup plan.

  28. Honestly, as long as it was open source and provided a better native development toolchain than Google is currently providing for Android, I’d love to see what they can do.

  29. all of you guys guys are stupid, htc supplies the u.s government with tracking chips, which are in roughly 25 percent of ex convicts and world leaders.

  30. YEAH!!! google is pretty cool but i love htc i used to use windows mobile before android came out(now i have an android phone) and it was amazing

  31. I have always been a fan on HTC and have no problem with it creating its own OS. Also i believe that they should still stay with android. One because i do believe that android still has a way to grow but it has unlimited potential. Two unlike AT&T who relies mostly on the I-phone HTC could prosper more by using two top of the line OS. With its ability to manufacture phone which are capable of actually working well with these OS, which should bypass the amount of OS that are actually available to the market today.

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