HTC and O2 split over XDA future

Carrier seeking new suppliers for smart-phone line

UK carrier O2 this week confirmed it is looking for new handset maker partners to push its XDA smart phone family forward following a parting of the ways with its original XDA supplier, HTC. Long-time HTC customer i-mate may also be for the chop, if comments from the manufacturer are to be taken at face value.

It was the Taiwanese manufacturer that effectively signalled the break earlier this week. A senior executive with the company's Dopod subsidiary, Prim Krithivasan, told Cnet Australia: "O2 doesn't have the relationship [with HTC] anymore... [and] going forward the HTC relationship won't extend to i-mate."

Krithivasan's comments came a day after O2 Germany announced two new XDAs, both made by HTC: the XDA Cosmo and the XDA Orbit.

Two weeks ago, i-mate launched its Jaq smart phone, the company's first device not designed and manufactured by HTC. The Jaq is believed to be made by Inventec.

O2 wouldn't say when its relationship with HTC came to an end, or which of them initiated the break. Instead, a company spokeswoman put a brave face on the split, stressing instead the opportunities the carrier hopes to leverage to work with fresh new partners going forward.

Still, it's a blow for the company's XDA efforts, which have relied almost entirely on HTC's device development savvy since the range was introduced in June 2002. Indeed, O2 was HTC's first European carrier partner.

O2 may turn to Quanta for future XDAs. The Taiwanese manufacturer already produces the XDA Atom for O2's Asian subsidiary, though the device has never made it to O2's European heartland.

HTC has been looking to strengthen its own name in the smart phone market for more than a year now, but the plan gathered further momentum in June this year when the company re-launched itself with a more consumer-friendly brand. It also acquired a big but undisclosed stake in Dopod, another of its many handset supplier customers which include carriers Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile as well as O2 and i-mate. ®

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