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HTC: We're not just about phones anymore

At CES 2015, the device-maker lays out plans to go way, way beyond its smartphone persona and into gadgets for health and home.

Everyone thought HTC was crazy when it launched the Re camera. Turns out, it was all part of a bigger plan. CNET

LAS VEGAS -- The HTC Re camera was just the beginning. The Taiwanese company used CES 2015 to quietly share its future plans for more devices like the Re, and others besides.

HTC isn't pulling back on its smartphone business, but neither is it content to build phones, and only phones, for years to come.

In addition to imaging products like the Re, HTC will also branch out into health and fitness; a fitness band or smartwatch are almost inevitable extensions of the smartphone business.

More surprising is a commitment to connected entertainment and the connected home, where HTC says it seeks to solve specific problems.

"We can't be in the 'me-too' business," said Jeffrey Gattis, an executive marketing director for the emerging devices group, who emphasized in an interview with CNET HTC's continued quest to bring its hallmark industrial design and user experience sensibilities to new ventures.

To that end, HTC has created a new, 100-person-strong global business unit for connected products, mostly consisting of brand-new hires.

HTC's Gattis acknowledges that the company's future gambits may not always strike the right chord with buyers, but that it's important to try. "Sometimes we'll be wrong," he said, "But we need to stake our claim."

HTC has faced increasing pressure in the smartphone space, with Apple and Samsung still dominant on the high end, and the global rise of cheap Chinese manufacturers like ZTE squeezing in from below. As HTC digs itself out of a financial slump with its first profit gain in three years, a diversified product portfolio beyond the smartphone market is a way to open up new revenue paths.

"It's very hard to move into new categories," Gattis said. "We're trying to elevate HTC from a great smartphone company to a great devices company."