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HTC to combine UMPC, smart phone in 2007?

Could be planning to use Intel's 'Steeley'

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HTC, manufacturer of rather a lot of the world's Windows Mobile-based smart phones, may be looking to break into the ultra-mobile PC market next year, according to a senior company executive. Unlike today's UMPCs, HTC's product would include full phone functionality.

So indicated HTC's North American marketing VP, Todd Achilles, in an interview with the Seattle Times recently. Achilles said HTC was planing to hire a 12-person engineering team to devise new products that can be connected to broadband cellular networks. Such items could include, he suggested, a UMPC.

It could be sold as early as next year, Achilles told the paper.

The move would certainly be a logical one for HTC, which last year launched 'Universal', a 3G PDA phone handset with a fold-up-and-rotate 640 x 480 display and a QWERTY keypad. HTC has also shipped handsets with slide-out QWERTY keypads. Any of these designs could feasibly be scaled up to UMPC size, and with a suitably powerful but low power consumption CPU you'd have a solid alternative to the likes of the OQO and Samsung's Q1.

That said, Samsung is itself pursuing the UMPC/phone market segment with its SPH-9000 handheld device.

Intel is due to ship 'Steeley', an x86 processor designed for UMPCs during H1 2007, it revealed in September, with a view to products based on the chip coming to market in the second half of the year. Contract manufacturers like Quanta and Inventec have expressed an interest in the chip and in Intel's McCaslin reference platform, and it's hard to imagine HTC not being intrigued by it too. ®

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