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HTC sets sights on wearable tech market, but won't rush in

CEO Peter Chou says it's "still too early" for HTC to jump into wearable technology. Until then, the company will focus heavily on tablets.

HTC CEO Peter Chou
HTC CEO Peter Chou
Stephen Shankland/CNET

HTC is having its fair share of trouble in the smartphone market, but the company sees new opportunities in wearable technology and tablets, its two top executives said in an interview.

Speaking to Financial Times in an interview published on Monday, HTC CEO Peter Chou said the wearable technology market is "a critical segment for us," but he's not so sure now is the time to jump into the space.

"It's still too early," Chou said of the wearable technology space. "It has to meet a need, otherwise it's just a gimmick or concept, it's not for people's day-to-day lives."

Chou's comments come as interest in wearable technology continues to grow. Samsung, one of HTC's biggest competitors, jumped into the wearable market in September with its Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Products like the Pebble Watch, Sony SmartWatch 2, and FitBit Force are already trying to claim a spot in the wearable-tech space, and both Google and Apple are rumored to be working on smartwatches. Where HTC plans to fit into that lineup is unknown.

Until Chou decides it's time to jump into wearable technology, his company will be focusing heavily on tablets, he told Financial Times. HTC has been practically silent on the tablet front, but chairwoman Cher Wang said in the interview that HTC is planning something big for the space and will launch the slate when the time is right.

"When the [HTC] tablet comes out it will be something nice and disruptive," Wang told the Financial Times. "There are a lot of devices to innovate . . . Ubiquitous intelligence is not just wearables."

Looking ahead, Chou and Wang will either improve HTC's market position, or thrust it deeper into obscurity. A recent report from the Financial Times said Chou will temporarily give up some of his responsibilities to Wang so he can focus on product design and other key decisions that could improve the company's market position. Wang, meanwhile, will handle how the business is run.

In either case, Chou and Wang have some work cut out for them. HTC reported a net loss of NT$2.97 billion ($101 million) in the three-month period ended September 30, its first quarterly net loss since going public in 2002. During the same period a year ago, HTC generated a net profit of NT$3.9 billion.