INTERVIEW: Florian Seiche, vice president of HTC Europe, spoke to smartphone.biz-news ahead of his keynote address at the HiT Barcelona World Innovation Summit.
He talks about the potential for Android’s Market app store and the opportunities that open source platforms offer as the mobile internet "explodes".
Android’s Market will be at least as successful as Apple’s hugely popular App Store – and could prove even more of a hit.
That’s the view of Florian Seiche, vice president of HTC Europe, who believes app downloads for the open-source software platform developed by Google could well emulate Apple’s success.
Off the back of the iPhone, that success has been phenomenal – in April the App Store clocked up one billion software downloads in the nine months since it opened.
However, Strategy Analytics recently predicted global shipments of Android-based smartphones will grow 900 per cent this year and it expects it to become a top-tier player in smartphones over the next two to three years.
If that happens – with a range of Android-supporting handsets on the market – then Seiche’s forecast for Android apps will undoubtedly become a reality.
He said the key to the whole mobile application ecosystem is to make it a really viable business for software developers.
App Stores Vital
One factor in this is for each open platform to have a central app store where consumers can discover what applications are available.
"The iPhone has been extremely strong because it was the first to go out with a centralised market place," he said.
"The Android Market will have at least the same impact, if not more. It combines a central marketplace but there is a much wider choice of devices being offered."
|Florian Seiche, vice president HTC Europe|
While the recent proliferation of app stores – LG is the latest to announce it will be launching one shortly – may cause consumers some confusion, Seiche said software had to reach consumers.
"For the immediate future, the most important thing is to make applications as available as possible for the consumer," he said.
"It’s a good thing for each open platform to have a central place where applications can be accessed."
There’s no doubt HTC would benefit from Android becoming a global success story.
Ties to Android
The Taiwanese company was one of the founding members of the Open Handset Alliance, the first product of which was the Android mobile device platform.
And the HTC Dream – also marketed as T-Mobile G1, Era G1 in Poland, Rogers Dream in Canada – was the first phone to the market using the Android platform.
So HTC has been closely involved with Android from the beginning.
However, Seiche said HTC’s role goes back further, to the late 1990s when it was founded.
"We focused our entire vision and strategy on smartphone devices," he said.
"We did this at a time when the mobile phone market was growing very strong across the world but it was still very much a voice-centric market with just the basic parts of the data world emerging in the form of text."
Even then, Seiche said HTC had set its vision on a completely different kind of device – one that brought together what people were doing on PCs with mobile devices.
He said being in at the infancy of smartphone development has helped HTC over the years to pioneer technology such as touchscreens.
Evolve and Change
His address on Friday at HiT Barcelona will look at HTC’s role in the smartphone evolution but also look at how the market will continue to evolve and change.
The first of two big themes that Seiche will cover is how mobile devices will drive and revolutionise what’s happening on the Internet.
The second is the open platform revolution, which is resulting in the proportion of handsets with open operating systems rising exponentially.
Seiche said that with the help of industry collaboration, third party developers now had access to some very credible and powerful ways to distribute their applications.
He said that was opening up a whole new market, as consumers saw how apps tailor-made for a mobile environment were improving the mobile experience.
"That will continue to grow even stronger," he said. "At the end of the day, all of this should benefit the end user."
However, Seiche said empowering the end user by enabling them to personalise smartphones was only possible in a world with open platforms – where users decide what apps are relevant and important.
He said HTC’s role in this is to ensure it designed user interfaces that allowed users to quickly and intuitively access the mobile Internet, including connecting with services such as social networking.
However, HTC has no plans to enter the app store arena, according to Seiche. Instead, he said the company sees its role as providing the "best possible framework" for the end user.
"Then it is to arrange the world they create in an easy and compelling way," he said.
HTC has also developed dedicated apps and widgets on its phones to allow users to access information ranging from stock movements to weather forecasts.
Mobile Internet Boom
If HTC is enthusiastic about Android, it is equally positive about Windows Mobile – the OS used in the majority of its smartphones.
With Microsoft due to launch its own mobile software store shortly, the growing choice for consumers can only be good news for HTC.
Seiche said the mobile Internet is about to "explode" with third party developers innovating strongly.
"It’s a great opportunity for us," he said. "We see the main shift in the market towards open platforms.
"We see opportunity in offering choice with different platforms, but always with great user experience at the top level no matter what the operating system."
Smartphone.biz-news will be covering HiT Barcelona – please check our site for the latest news and interviews.
HiT Barcelona: World Innovation Summit: June 17-19 FIRA Barcelona