HTC weighs buying WebOS or other mobile OS

But HTC still considers its Sense interface its distinction

HTC is considering buying WebOS from Hewlett Packard or another mobile operating system, according to a report based on comments made by HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang.

"We have given it thought and and we have discussed it internally, but we will not do it on impulse," she told the Economic Observer of China, as reported by Focus Taiwan and others.

"HTC is focused on providing customers with the best experience across our device portfolio. We are always evaluating opportunities to enhance that experience through innovation and partnership; however, we have no announcements about our platform strategy at this time." a spokeswoman said in an email.

Analysts said it seems clear that HTC could benefit by owning a mobile operating system in addition to relying on Android or Windows Phone versions that other manufacturers use. One reason is that HTC's Android devices have come under legal attack for patent infringement by Apple, which has also sued other Android manufacturers. HTC, in turn, filed a lawsuit last week against Apple based on patents acquired from Google.

Wang implied in her interview with the Observer that whatever OS that HTC deploys won't prevent the company from still offering unique products. Her comments could be interpreted as meaning that acquiring a new OS is not that high of a priority, some analysts noted.

"We can use any OS we want," she said. "We are able to make things different from our rivals on the second or third layer of a platform. Our strength lies in understanding an OS, but it does not mean that we have to produce an OS."

HTC produces its own HTC Sense interface that runs on top of the Windows Phone 7 and Android OSes, in the same way that Motorola offers Motoblur on Android or Samsung offers Touchwiz on Android.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile oses in Computerworld's Mobile OSes Topic Center.

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