updated 03:55 pm EDT, Thu June 3, 2010
HTC's Peter Chou talks OS, battery life at D8
HTC's CEO Peter Chou defended Android and some of his company's practices in his turn on stage at the D8 conference. The smartphone maker denied that his firm's Sense UI was contributing to Android's fragmentation by delaying when phones could get Android OS upgrades. He instead put a minimal amount of the blame on the OS itself and argued that Sense UI was capable of the apps if the OS didn't conflict.
"The operating system itself may cause a bit of a problem," Chou said. "But it's a small one... and it occurs more with older devices."
While HTC has been one of the most consistent in delivering upgrades to its earlier Android phones as new versions become available, the devices have almost always faced a months-long delay between when Google releases a new OS update and when HTC is ready to implement it. The Hero and most other summer or fall 2009 Android phones didn't get 2.x updates until the spring even though 2.0 first shipped in November with the Motorola Droid.
Apple's control over the iPhone platform has often been cited as an advantage in this area as it can push out OS updates that work with all hardware powerful enough to support them. Microsoft has already seen OS fragmentation as enough of a problem that it insisted on writing most drivers for Windows Phone 7 to make sure that upgrades could arrive over-the-air rather than wait for the hardware designer and carrier to coordinate with each other.
Chou also tackled the problem of the Evo 4G's short battery life, which with 4G or heavy use can run out in just a few hours. He recognized the problem and implied fixes might be underway but instead used it as an opportunity to tout the phone's removable battery; this was "not like the iPhone," he said. However, he implied that customers might need to buy a second battery to solve the problem for at least the near future.