Taiwanese phone maker HTC has found itself under pressure on two fronts after Apple said that it is set to sue HTC for infringing on 20 patents related to its popular iPhone, which are being infringed in the new Nexus One Google Android mobile phone as well as several other phones.In Australia, customers who purchase the new HTC HD2, which runs on the Windows Mobile operating system, face the prospect of not being able to upgrade their new phone to the new Windows 7 OS, which is due out later this year.
Telstra is currently selling the HD2 exclusively on its Next G network, for A$0 upfront with a 24-month $80 plan. The new Windows OS is due out in September 2010.
All up, a customer buying an HD2 will have to pay at least $1920 on the plan or $829 outright, for a mobile that faces near-term obsolescence.
Executives had dodged media questions on whether the phone would be upgradable to Windows Mobile 7 when the HD2 was launched in Australia in a showy event at the Sydney Opera House.
Microsoft is blaming the problem on the Windows Phone 7’s tight hardware specifications. They threaten to make Windows 6 phones obsolete, although Microsoft says it will still support Win6 and release an upgrade to be known as Windows Classic, once Windows Phone 7 is released.
HTC first learnt of its problems with Apple when the US company filed complaints with both with the US International Trade Commission and the US Federal Court seeking a ban on US imports, sales or use of the targeted HTC phones, as well as unspecified compensation for damages.
Apple claims that several HTC-manufactured devices, including the Nexus One, as well as phones running Windows Mobile, infringe on its patents. The company said the patents involve the iPhone’s touchscreen user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.
In the past when ChannelNews has raised these potential conflict issues with HTC and other phone makers such as Nokia, we have been told that there is no conflict with the Apple patents.
ChannelNews has been told that Apple is currently looking at whether new tablet PCs also infringe on its patents as several Asian manufacturers get set to launch competitors to the new Apple iPad, which has similar touch technology to the iPhone.
“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it,” said Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs in a statement. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”
An HTC spokesman said the company “values patent rights and their enforcement but is also committed to defending its own technology innovations.” The spokesman said the company had learned of the lawsuit through media reports, and hasn’t had a chance to review the case.