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HTC considers buying own OS

HTC is considering ditching Android and striking out with its own smart phone software.

HTC could strike out with its own smart phone software. Hugely successful with phones powered by Google's Android operating system, HTC could break out the cheque book and buy an alternative OS.

In an interview with Chinese newspaper The Economic Observer, HTC boss Cher Wang said "We have given it thought and we have discussed it internally, but we will not do it on impulse".

HTC may have its sights set on webOS, the software unceremoniously dumped by HP this summer in a flurry of price cuts for the HP TouchPad and Pre 3. Another potential target is MeeGo, developed by Nokia and Intel and only appearing on the doomed Nokia N9.

The problem with alternative operating systems is that they don't have as many users as the big two -- Android and Apple -- and so aren't as attractive to app designers, so they don't have as many apps. An OS with no apps won't get many new users: it's a vicious cycle.

HTC could make the new OS look and feel similar to its current line-up with Sense, a front-end that HTC puts on top of Android. If Sense is slapped on top of the new software, it would make the transition easier for existing customers.

HTC what you did there

HTC may feel threatened by Google's decision to buy handset rival Motorola, putting Moto in a privileged position when it comes to Android releases.

A possible reason for moving away from Android would be to sidestep the legal travails currently threatening to engulf mobile phone software. A US judge ruled earlier this summer that HTC is infringing Apple patents in a legal scrap which has now spread to this side of the pond. Apple appears to have targeted HTC as a thin end of the wedge in a potential larger legal challenge to Google.

Having a spare operating system up their sleeves should protect the folks at HTC from the worst case scenario of Apple hobbling Android. Heck, Samsung has Bada as well as Android and Windows Phone. Nokia has MeeGo and Symbian on top of its hotly-anticipated Nokia Windows Phone.

HTC came almost out of nowhere when Android was born. From making anonymous Windows Mobile phones, HTC became perhaps the definitive Android manufacturer with handsets like the Legend, Hero and Desire. No wonder Google picked HTC to build the flagship Google Nexus One to showcase all that's good and holy about Android.

Can you imagine HTC phones without Android on them? Should every manufacturer keep a spare OS on hand in case of trouble? And which OS should HTC shell out for? Tell us your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.