HTC unveils 5G smart hub at MWC

TAIPEI (CNA) – Taiwan-based smartphone brand HTC Corp. unveiled a first-of-its-kind 5G mobile smart hub Monday, the first day of the 2019 Mobile World Congress (MWC) held in Barcelona.

The product is essentially a 5G mobile hotspot for up to 20 users that will also serve as a mobile hub that can stream TV shows and movies from different apps, and it comes equipped with a battery so that it can be used anywhere.

HTC said that through the mobile smart hub, which weighs 340 grams and has a 5-inch screen, customers will be able to use 5G on multiple devices while on the go, at work, or at home for fast connectivity, content sharing and entertainment.

“HTC is proud to bring to market the world’s first 5G mobile smart hub,” HTC Chairwoman and CEO Cher Wang (王雪紅) said in a statement.

“5G will be the game-changer for VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) and the new HTC 5G Hub will seamlessly deliver the great bandwidth of 5G to our devices, driving our vision of Vive Reality – a boundless, immersive environment where human experiences will come to the forefront,” Wang said.

Telecom service providers across the globe, including U.S.-based Sprint, Australia’s Telstra, Three in the United Kingdom, Deutsche Telekom, Switzerland’s Sunrise and Finland’s Elisa, will offer the new gadgets to their customers, HTC said.

The 5G mobile hub is scheduled to go on sale in the second quarter of this year.

Wang led an HTC delegation to this year’s MWC to showcase the company’s latest 5G, VR and AR technologies. HTC entered the VR market when it launched its first VR headset – the Vive – in 2015.

Wang was invited by the MWC to deliver a keynote speech on HTC’s achievements in VR development in a wide range of applications such as education and enterprise use.

Last week, HTC introduced the Vive Focus Plus, an upgraded version of the standalone Vive Focus. The new Vive Focus Plus, which is equipped with two “6 degrees of freedom” (6DoF) controllers and targets business customers, is being demonstrated at MWC.

Despite the efforts to develop VR technology to diversify its product mix amid escalating competition in the global smartphone market, HTC has seen its bottom line deteriorate.

In 2018, HTC’s consolidated sales totaled NT$23.74 billion (US$771 million), down 61.78 percent from the previous year, the seventh consecutive year of decline.

HTC posted a loss per share of NT$3.18 in the third quarter of last year, worse than the NT$2.53 loss per share seen in the previous quarter.

HTC still recorded NT$20.01 in earnings per share for the first nine months of the year, however, because of the one-time profit it made on a US$1 billion sale of its smartphone ODM assets to Google in the first quarter.

By Jiang Ming-yan and Frances Huang