HTC halts trading of shares; Google acquisition likely announced soon

[Special Feature]Two Tech Geeks Best of Tech 2012First rumored earlier this month, it appears as if the buyout of HTC’s mobile division is on track to be formalized.  HTC announced today (Source: the Verge) that they have halted trading of their shares in advance of a major announcement.  Most people are projecting that this announcement will be that they are being purchased by Google, to serve as their hardware division going forward.

HTC has been in a position to manufacture phones for Google in the past, both under the Nexus as well as Pixel brands (and it poised to have another device released shortly, the Pixel 2 coming on October 4th) and this merger/buyout makes a lot of sense for both companies.  At least, it makes sense to me, as someone who has been looking for Google to have the kind of equipment, facilities, technical expertise, and supply chain to get into the hardware game for a while now.  We will follow up when the announcement is made official with the press release.

 

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Report – HTC is going to sell its phone business to Google

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Cited by Droid-Life, there is a report from DigiTimes that indicates that due to falling revenue (the lowest in 13 years apparently), HTC is finalizing the sale of its mobile phone operations to Google.  While Google used to own Motorola, that was several years ago and the Android landscape has shifted quite a bit since then.  As many of you might already know, Google had formed a partnership with HTC last year to produce the initial wave of Pixel devices, and is also going to be producing the Pixel 2 device (scheduled to be released this year, around October)

If realized, Google would now own a supply chain and manufacturing facility based in Taiwan with a nice track record of producing very solid hardware.  And while they have had some misses in the past (does anyone remember the U Ultra?) they have also had some hits, such as the U11, the HTC One series, and the aforementioned Pixel 2016 version.  Most Android fanboys would love the idea of HTC hardware mated with stock Google software.  We will follow this story to determine its accuracy.

Source(s): DigiTimes | via Droid-Life

HTC announces the U11 smartphone

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HTC today announced their newest flagship device, the HTC U11.  Building on the base of both the HTC 10 and the HTC U Ultra devices, the U11 at first blush appears to sport some of the best features of both.  If you are a Sprint (or potentially Verizon) user, this could be a phone that might interest you a great deal.  Click thru the jump for more details…

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Podcast Episode 27 – May Rumor Roundup

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The latest episode of the Silicon Theory podcast is here, and we talk all of the rumors from May so far surrounding devices from OEMs including: OnePlus, Motorola, and even Apple.  Check it out and be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform.  If you listen via iTunes, after you subscribe be sure to leave a 5 star review!  Thanks for listening!

Podcast direct links here – iTunesGoogle Play MusicSoundCloud

OEM Stock Watch 2017 – part 2

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This is part 2 of our feature on OEM Stock Watch 2017.  If you haven’t already, make sure you go back and check out part 1 to get our feelings on how the other major OEMs are doing this year.  Once you’ve done that, click on through to read part 2!  Part 2 covers what my (Shawn) thoughts are on the rest of the OEMs; Sean P. will have his parts coming in a special part 3 (as soon as his RL work stuff calms down a bit)

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OEM Stock Watch 2017 – part 1

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As the year is reaching its midway point, we wanted to take a look at how we felt the major mobile device manufacturers were doing, and we thought it would be appropriate to treat them like we would any other big company…by rating their “stock” (according to both Sean P. and myself) We’ll give our thoughts on everyone from Apple to ZTE, and loads more in between. Because the list is so big, we will do it in two parts, with part 1 today and part 2 coming next week.  So without further ado, let’s give you a look into the crystal ball of these two day traders!

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[Podcast] Episode 21 – March Rumor Roundup

Hey everyone – just in time for the weekend, we here at Silicon Theory have an exciting new episode of the podcast to get you thru the doldrums Saturday and Sunday.  Sean P. and I go over the rumor roundup from March, and talk about a bunch of stuff, including offerings from Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, and HTC.

Download or stream from iTunes, Google Play Music, or Soundcloud.  If you leave us a 5 star review on your favorite podcast platform, we will love you forever!  And we’ll even read your review on our next podcast.  Thanks for listening!

Silicon Theory podcast – iTunesGoogle Play MusicSoundCloud

[Podcast] Episode 17 – January Rumor Roundup

Yes – another episode of the Silicon Theory Podcast is uploaded and this time, its all about the rumors surrounding the new phones for 2017.  We talk offerings from Samsung, Apple, and others.  There is a lot going on, and the leaks are coming fast and furious but we take a look at everything that’s relevant for those of you who are looking for new devices this year.  And man…there could be a great selection to choose from.
We explore all of that and more in the latest episode.  Be sure to subscribe on Google Play, iTunes, or SoundCloud to get all the newest episodes!

[Op-Ed] What might the 10 mean for HTC?

The most recent smartphones they’ve produced have not been big successes for HTC.  In the wake of the announcement of their most recent flagship device, the HTC 10, I’m asking myself the question: what could another failure mean for HTC?  But then I thought about it another way – what would a device that is actually a success mean for the Taiwanese company?  I’ve owned an HTC device in the past, and enjoyed it.  But HTC is a long way from the days of the Incredible.  Let’s talk about the 10 and what it might mean for the future of this brand.

First off, let’s visit the specs of the the 10 – all the usual suspects are here:  Snapdragon 820 CPU, Adreno 530 GPU, 4GB RAM, 32GB internal storage with SD card slot (w/adoptable storage support) Quad HD Super LCD 5 display panel, 12MP Ultrapixel 2 camera with OIS, and a 3000mah battery.  On paper, this should perform as well as any other flagship sold this year, like the Galaxy S7 and the LG G5.  Their software skin (Sense v8.0) has been hailed by many as the lightest and perhaps closest to stock Android as one can get these days from any OEM.  The general feeling of most of the reviews I’ve seen are that its a jack of all trades while master of none.  It does many things very well, looks good and feels well built, and seems a nice return to the days of HTC’s last big hit device, the One M7.  You can check some of the reviews yourself linked below.

Many of the unlocked pre-orders will ship starting Monday, May 2nd.  Its available from Verizon starting around May 6th, and everywhere by May 13th.  HTC has needed a win for a while now.  The quality and usability of their phones have been declining since the M7 was released.  While other competitors were moving their tech forward, HTC seemed to continue to make bizarre business decisions with the direction of their phones that were annoying at best and a downright disaster at worst.  
The 10 would at first appear to poise HTC to start to turn things around.  As you might have heard on the Silicon Theory podcast, we’ve wondered for a while now when some other larger company was going to just buy out HTC and break the company up for parts.  Why it hadn’t actually happened is beyond me.  But now, maybe HTC can leverage the 10 to make an improbable comeback as a player in the global smartphone game.  

But do they really want to?  Recently, HTC seems to have thrown all their support behind their new Vive virtual reality product, and are moving away from the mobile smartphone market segment.  We still don’t know yet if virtual reality is more than just a fad, but HTC seems to be going all in with the Vive.  They’ve put more advertising and effort into this clearly niche market device, and their latest flagship smartphone seems almost like an afterthought.   And yet rumors still persist that they may in fact be in charge of not 1 but 2 new Nexus phones, and this prospect has quite a few people excited.  The latest Nexus from Huawei is a great overall performer and an excellent value for the money.  I own it, and am very pleased with it.  Part of its appeal is the premium look and feel of an all metal chassis.  HTC seems to have returned a bit to their old form with the 10 – and perhaps could push their stock even further up if they can do something good with the Nexus line.  The last HTC and Google collaboration, the Nexus One, was a solid performer, and well received by the Android community.  Developer devices (such as the Nexus line has long been known for) typically get raised to cult status, unless they end up being some kind of horrific carrier nightmare (yes, I’m looking at you Verizon Galaxy Nexus)

So maybe the days of HTC aren’t numbered after all.  Turns out the 10 might be a pretty good phone.  If HTC is tapped to make the new Nexus devices, then they might be pretty good as well.  If the Nexus devices do well, and considering how important they are to the overall Android ecosystem, it could mean a lot of new business for HTC.  So, in a way, the HTC 10 could mean very big things ahead for HTC.  But is that what they want?  Maybe it is, if the success of their latest devices means more money for them to throw at the Vive and VR in the long run.

[Op-Ed] The benefit to rooting an Android phone

Once upon a time, I was the proud owner of a Blackberry Pearl.  (Don’t laugh)  I had worked my way up at a previous employer to be in a position to recommend the products the company purchased.  Since mobile e-mail was king, we ended up purchasing a fleet of Blackberry devices.  My first smartphone impressed me so much that when I left the company I decided to buy one for myself.  I owned two before the Pearl was released, and I really though I had found the perfect smartphone for me.  The size, form factor, and RIM’s e-mail integration made this a real winner in my book.  Some days, I miss the feeling I had when I first got it…there’s nothing like the thrill of buying your next tech toy.  This was right about the time the iPhone began to gain traction as an all touch screen smartphone that had a host of other features that a Blackberry couldn’t hope to match.

As this inexorable shift in mobile technology began to take place (see my previous article here regarding the growth of the “prosumer” market segment) I heard about a new Android phone supposed to be coming to Verizon Wireless that had specs even better than the iPhone and comparable to those of a home PC from a few years ago – the HTC Incredible.  After seeing some of the commercials and reading the reviews online, I was hooked and gave up my beloved BB Pearl to pre-order the Incredible.  My first Android phone was a whole new experience…an all touch screen phone was something that made me truly realize where mobile phone tech was headed.  At the time, I knew nothing about the Android development community and was much too afraid to “hack” my phone and try some of the things I’d read about other folks doing to their phones.  But I always felt like there was something I was missing out on.
So when the time came for the Incredible to go, and for a new phone choice to be made, I made a decision that would change much of the way I viewed my phone – I decided to hold out for a “developer phone” – the Galaxy Nexus from Samsung, also on Verizon Wireless.  I had read that Nexus phones were among the first to get new releases of the Android OS, as well as having an unlockable boot loader and was able to be rooted (both terms at the time that didn’t hold much meaning for me).  But it would give me the option to learn and experiment and allow my knowledge of what Android could do to grow.  This was my first foray into the land of rooting and the Android developers community.

In its simplest terms, “rooting” an Android device is the ability to grant “Superuser” access to any application you choose.  This would be the equivalent in the PC world of having “admin” rights to the PC.  Install what you want!  And if your phone offers the option of an unlockable boot loader (meaning you have the ability to overwrite even the operating system if you choose), you can do even more.  You’re in complete control!  The downside is of course, you also have the ability to royally screw up your phone beyond recovery (usually called bricking the phone).  But I decided I wanted to learn as much as I could to make this process something that would work for me, and not against me.  I made the decision to get a Galaxy Nexus for my wife and myself, and I dove into learning all I needed to know to unlock and root them both.

The result has been a very rewarding journey that sometimes borders on an unhealthy obsession.  Initially, learning the process of accomplishing both of these was challenging, but the more time I spent on it the easier it became.  And now, there are multiple tools available to allow even the novice Android user the ability to unlock and root their phone.  A few button clicks is all it takes and one has opened the door to a world of wonders.  Unlocking the boot loader combined with rooting the device has given me the flexibility to be able to control virtually every facet of my phone.  I have installed a tool to help back up my phone in the event of anything going wrong.  I have installed custom ROMs (basically a customized version of Android that has been modified by a developer group to do things that the stock Android doesn’t do) over and over again to gain access to new features.  I’ve also installed a custom kernel (the software governing battery usage) to improve battery life and overall performance.  Even small things like changing the icons of the phones applications and modifying the display to rotate the icons as if they were on a 3D cube are all made possible by being able to unlock and root the phone.
What time I spent in learning how to do these things has resulted in my ability to make any changes I want to the software of my phone.  This knowledge has given me the satisfaction of making the phone do what I want it to do.  One of the developer groups making custom ROMs is known as “Team BAMF” and their motto is “Make It Your Phone.”  This can easily be accomplished through the process of rooting.