News out of Taipei today states that Taiwanese prosecutors have indicted a chief designer and five employees at smartphone maker HTC for allegedly leaking crucial trade secrets to China and breach of trust. Specifically, Chien Chih-lin, vice president of product design, was charged with leaking information relating to "highly valuable" designs for a yet-to-be-launched smartphone interface to unidentified individuals in Beijing in an attempt to set up a joint new company in China, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors requested a heavy sentence for Chien on the grounds that he has caused serious damages to HTC and has shown no remorse for his actions, the statement said. Both offences carry a maximum 10-year jail term.
In a formal statement HTC stated that "The Company expects employees to observe and practice the highest levels of integrity and ethics. Protecting the company's proprietary and intellectual properties, privacy and security is a core fundamental responsibility of every employee. ," HTC said in a statement.
Another HTC Headache - Or is this One Really a Marketing Game?
On another negative front, HTC let their customers in on the ridiculously long process involved in getting a new Android OS update to them in an un-timely manner. The painfully detailed graphic illustrated below from Infographic can be found on HTC's website. Is that crazy or what? In contrast, 74% of Apple's iPhone users easily upgraded to the new iOS 7 in just two months hassle free.
So why would HTC want to expose the Android update quagmire to the public? Well, the answer may actually turn out to be far simpler than you think. At the top of our report we highlighted a part of sentence presented in the Taipei news that read: 'highly valuable' designs for a yet-to-be-launched smartphone interface." That yet-to-be-launched smartphone UI is more than likely tied to their upcoming release of a new Tizen OS UI for HTC smartphones. The general news about this was first leaked back in 2012.
Now tie that news in with what we reported on earlier today – that Samsung's Tizen based smartphone has received FCC approval – and we partly get to understand HTC's salesmanship here of showing off this ridiculous Android upgrade process graphic. Yes, the message here is simple in the bigger picture: Look at the hassle of upgrading to the latest Android OS is. Imagine what a relief it will be when we offer you a chance to switch to the Tizen OS.
It's kind of a psychological sales game or pre-emptive strike at possibly getting their customer base mentally prepared to ditch Android over time. That's why I like this story. There's more here than meets the eye at first glance. It's a rift in the Android market in the making in real-time. It could cause real mayhem for the Android developer community in the coming years if Tizen proves to be a worthy mobile OS.
Think about it: Samsung's Android smartphones are number one in volume and HTC owns the coolest Android Smartphone design on the market. With both companies now preparing moves to break away from Google "in some capacity" is going to make 2014 a very entertaining year to see unfold. Stay tuned, as this potential mobile OS war front could get very interesting, very quickly.
Our Thanks to Jeff Hufmire for his email link tip to HTC's website.