The HTC One M8 has been praised as being one of the most attractive, premium Android phones you could buy. When its predecessor the One M7 launched in 2013, many called it the first Android phone that could rival the iPhone in terms of sheer build quality.
Now, HTC is releasing a clone of its flagship handset for Windows Phone. Called the HTC One M8 with Windows, HTC’s new device comes with the same gorgeous design, high-res screen, and hardware as the Android version. It’s exclusive to Verizon and will cost $US100 on a two-year contract, or $US30 per month for 24 months. Expect to see it in Verizon stores on August 20.
It’s unusual for a manufacturer to release the same exact phone on a different platform. Both HTC and Samsung have made Windows Phone devices in the past, but they’re usually completely separate than their respective Android flagships. For example, HTC an entire line of Windows Phones such as the Windows Phone 8X that are entirely independent of its Android brand.
So what sparked the decision? According to Jason Mackenzie, HTC’s U.S. president, it all started over a dinner meeting between HTC, Verizon, and Microsoft near the end of 2013. The three companies decided that there’s a hole in the Windows Phone lineup that needed to be filled.
“There’s really a gap on Windows Phone and opportunity in the sense that there’s not really a premium top tier device that’s equal to what’s on Android today,” Mackenzie said in an interview with Business Insider. “And it felt like we could do that, and leverage what we’re doing with the One M8 and really stand out.”
Releasing a device like the One M8 with Windows could help the platform catch up to Android, it’s biggest competitor in the smartphone space, Mackenzie said.
“For us, it’s like OK what do we do really well? We’re top-tier, best-of-the-best smartphones,” Mackenzie said. “If I look on the Windows Phone platform, there’s really not that. If I want to dive in there and get a premium phone, I gotta get a fat clunky looking device.”
Take the Nokia Lumia Icon, for example. While it feels like a premium, durable device, it’s a bit heavier than your standard phone.
Windows Phone has been showing growth, but it still has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to compete with Android and iOS. Windows Phone only accounts for less than 5% of the global smartphone market, making it a tough sell for developers and consumers.
But HTC isn’t thinking about those numbers.
“People used to ask me the same question when we kicked off Android,” said Mackenzie. “We were the first to launch on Android, and everyone was like ‘Why are you doing this? You have all this big business with Microsoft.’ And the answer today is the same as it was then. We don’t believe there is one product that meets the need of everyone.”
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