With the closing of their cloud service, HTC has committed an unforced errorEvan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Late last year, word start circulating that HTC would be changing things up in 2012. Word on the street was that the company was going to put a focus on quality over quantity, and that there would be a distinct drop in phone models from previous years moving forward. They confirmed as much early in 2012, and then reaffirmed this gesture with the unveiling of their One Series. A strong focus on hardware, a new focus on software, and an overall good package to attract new customers, and keep those around who may have become a bit worn out with HTC-branded devices. While that’s all well and good, and HTC is certainly making good on their word (for now), it looks like they can’t help but want to trip themselves up in some fashion or another. So it isn’t hardware or mobile software this year. How about their cloud service?
Yep, that sounds about right. Yesterday it became known that HTC was planning on closing the digital access path to their HTCSense.com site and cloud-based storage for their own devices. In essence, HTCSense.com was a place to keep all your most important stuff, without having to worry about space on your phone. Messages, contacts, and even the ability to remotely wipe your device, or find it if you lost it. HTCSense.com was a great idea, especially back in 2010 when they launched it. Apple has grown their own iCloud service, and other companies have focused on the move to the cloud for a good way for consumers to back up their goods. But it looks like HTC wants to go the other direction entirely.
Now, let’s be clear, right up front: HTC has said that HTCSense.com is getting changed, a face-lift and a makeover. All those things. But, while they are quick to announce that, they won’t actually tell us what’s going to come of all these changes. Not yet, anyway. Instead, HTC points out that users of HTCSense.com only have until April 30th to get all their cloud-based saves from the site, courtesy of a handy .zip file, before they wipe everything and start fresh. Oh, and if you’re still wanting to back things up into the cloud, there are handy applications out there that will help you.
So, what is HTC doing? No one knows. One could easily look at the fact that HTC isn’t necessarily saying they are shutting down HTCSense.com for good, but that they are simply “making it over,” as a sign that it will come back at some point in the future, better than ever and more feature-laden. The flip-side of the coin is the fact that HTC, while saying they are giving their cloud-based idea a makeover and deleting everyone’s storage, is pointing to other applications as a sign that the site isn’t coming back, and the features will be lost forever.
I’m inclined to think that HTC didn’t think HTCSense.com was doing all that well, and that they don’t feel it should still be around. I’m leaning that way because of the fact that they are wiping all the data. If they were simply giving the site a makeover, perhaps adding or removing some features, I don’t see why they would need to delete everyone’s data. There could be some reasons in there, but they don’t seem all that obvious at this point.
HTCSense.com was a great addition to HTC’s feature options, and it’s a true shame that they are shuttering the service, especially considering it could still be considered to be in its infancy. But HTC is pretty good about tripping themselves up at some point or another, and this move to shut down one of their most intriguing and competitive features is definitely an obstacle.
Did you use HTCSense.com? Were you planning on using it when you picked up a new phone, like the One X? Let me know in the comments below.