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HTC Arrives At CES With Plan In Hand

Las Vegas – Smartphone maker HTC came to International CES to further outline its plans to become a personal technology company that offers more than just smartphones.

The company last year launched its first viewfinder-less point-and-shoot camera, the 16-megapixel periscope-shaped RE, which is positioned as an active family camera that make photo and video capture more enjoyable because users don’t have to hold a phone in front of their face.

Here at International CES, the company unveiled a partnership with sports-apparel maker Under Armour to co-develop and co-brand health and fitness products. Several co-branded products will be available in 2015, said Dan O’Brien, HTC’s executive director of connected products. Product types weren’t disclosed.

Also this year, HTC will offer connected-home and connected-entertainment products. Details weren’t disclosed.

The company will target carrier channels, retailers and direct online sales to consumers. HTC already sells through some distributors to retailers, including Ingram Micro.

To step up its imaging-product presence and sell more RE cameras, the company on Friday will join You Tube in launching a YouTube broadcasting channel in which users of the RE camera can stream live video to YouTube. The camera will transmit video via Wi-Fi Direct to a smartphone running a free Android app. From the smartphone, users will send out a link to the video to friends and families so they can view what’s happening.

An iOS app will be available later in the first quarter.

The company isn’t forgetting its smartphone roots, however, so it plans new HTC One hero phones this year as well as an expanded line of mid-tier Desire-series phones.

The first Desire phones appeared in the U.S. in 2014 and are sold by Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and Cricket. “We will grow the mid-tier,” O’Brien said, in part by offering some models as carrier exclusives.

In the mid-tier, HTC is focused on bringing its “hero software experience to the mid range” as well as bringing innovative designs, such as plastic bodies that are unibody like its all-metal phones.

HTC sees opportunity in the mid-tier in part because technology in hero phones is plateauing with “pretty incremental moves” in features and performance such as faster processors and improved battery life.

Consumer demand for mid-tier phones, he added, is growing because of growth in prepaid plans, which offer little or no handset subsidy. New postpaid plans that offer reduced monthly charges in return for purchasing an unsubsidized phone are also driving mid-tier phone sales, he said.