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HTC confirms plans to sell wearable device this year

Troubled handset maker's chairwoman tells Bloomberg she expects the release will help turn around the company's sliding fortunes.

HTC is getting ready to enter an already-crowded market for wearable computing.
Sarah Tew/CNET

HTC plans to begin selling a wearable device by year's end, HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang told Bloomberg, confirming long-standing rumors that the troubled handset maker will jump into the wearable computing fray.

"Many years ago we started looking at smartwatches and wearables, but we believe that we really have to solve the battery problems and the LCD light problems," Wang said in an interview Tuesday. "These are customer-centric problems."

The account of the interview offered no specifics on what consumers could expect or when. CNET has contacted HTC for more information and will update this report when we learn more.

HTC CEO Peter Chou told the Financial Times last October that the wearable technology market is a "critical segment for us" but that he wasn't sure the time was right to jump into the space. One report held that the company was already working on a smartwatch that would snap photos.

In addition to Apple's much-rumored interest in the market, HTC will be going up against the likes of rival Samsung, which jumped into the wearable market in September with its camera-equipped Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Other players already in the market include the Pebble Watch, Sony SmartWatch 2, and FitBit Force.

The Taiwanese handset maker has struggled of late in the face of fierce competition from Apple and Samsung. A decline in its mobile market share last year resulted in the company reporting its first quarterly net loss in more than 10 years. In an effort to reverse that slide, Chou relinquished some of his day-to-day duties to Wang to focus on innovation and product development.

"We feel positive and optimistic about 2014 when compared to 2013," HTC CFO Chang Chialin said in the interview but declined to offer a forecast ahead of an investor conference scheduled for Monday.

Last month, HTC posted a net income of NT$310 million ($10 million) for the fourth quarter compared with NT$1.01 billion ($34 million) in the year-ago period. Aggressive cost cutting and the sale of its remaining 25 percent stake in Beats Electronics for $265 million helped the company avoid its second-consecutive quarterly loss.