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HTC snubs i-mate, O2 in favour of Dopod

HTC's buyout bid for customer Dopod (who's recently launched its smartphone range in Australia) has reached the final stages, according to Dopod CEO Jack Tong.

i-mate's JASJAR is one of many smartphones based on an HTC design

HTC's buyout bid for customer Dopod (which has recently launched its smartphone range in Australia) has reached the final stages, according to Dopod CEO Jack Tong.

Speaking to this morning, Tong confirmed that both companies had signed a "memorandum of understanding", and that "government approval" was the only factor standing in the way of an official equity transfer.

Tong refused to specify the size of HTC's stake in Dopod or the monetary terms of the deal, however, a recent report by Physorg billed the deal at US$150 million for up to a 100 percent share.

Until now, HTC has designed and manufactured mobile devices for a range of manufacturers -- including Dopod, O2, i-mate and HP -- but hasn't sold directly to consumers. However, a spokesperson for HTC today confirmed that the company would market smartphone devices in Europe under the HTC brand name.

Also re-affirming HTC's consumer push, the Dopod buyout would put HTC in direct competition with its aforementioned customers, potentially leading to HTC designs being sold exclusively under the Dopod branding outside Europe.

According to Prim Krithivasan, Director of Dopod's Regional Operator Division in ANZ & India, HTC has cut its ties with both O2 and i-mate.

"O2 doesn't have the relationship [with HTC] anymore... [and] going forward the HTC relationship won't extend to i-mate."

Krithivasan confirmed to that, in future, the only HTC designs available in the Australian market would be sold through Dopod.

According to Dopod, HTC manufactures 80 percent of mobile phones running the Windows operating system.

Update (27/09/06): Since the initial publication of this story, John Featherstone, O2's VP of Sales for Southeast Asia and Oceania, issued a statement detailing that "O2 will continue to provide local technical and warranty support to all its customers across its entire range of products". Featherstone added that despite no longer having a "relationship with HTC in Asia Pacific and Middle East...HTC currently still provides devices to O2 in Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom".