CTIA Fall 2004
Taiwanese manufacturer HTC (High Tech Computer) is the world's largest original design manufacturer (ODM) of Microsoft Windows Mobile devices. They have produced every major iteration of the popular SPV and XDA devices for Europe. As an ODM, their devices always bear the logo of other companies. Nevertheless, among industry insiders and Windows Mobile devotees, HTC is a very powerful and well-respected brand.
Typically, HTC devices are brought to market by carriers. So when no U.S. carrier picks up a particular HTC model, it can sometimes be hard for U.S. consumers to locate, and a version for GSM 850 networks might not even be produced. For fans of Windows Mobile, this can sometimes be frustrating, as was the case recently with devices like the HTC Himalayas (XDA II) and Voyager (SPV E200).
That's where companies like i-mate come in. They bring HTC devices to market separately from the carriers, offering them directly to consumers.
The exciting news is that i-mate is now officially expanding to the U.S.; they're currently in the process of establishing a U.S. headquarters in California. They will be trying to forge relationships with U.S. carriers, and also offering HTC devices to consumers through more direct channels.
The first two devices i-mate will be marketing in the U.S. are the SP3i and the JAM. The SP3i is a Windows Mobile Smartphone, while the JAM is based on the more PDA-oriented Windows Mobile for Pocket PC (Phone Edition) platform. Each device represents the smallest hardware available for their respective platform.
The JAM features a megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and internal antenna. It is also known in Europe as the MDA Compact, and by the HTC code-name "Magician". i-mate claims they will be the exclusive distributor of this HTC model in the U.S. - you won't see this device released with an Audiovox or Siemens logo.
The SP3i is the Smartphone of the duo. It's very similar to the Audiovox SMT-5600 recently released by AT&T Wireless. The differences are simply different styling, and a more traditional joystick design. Other than that, the devices are practically the same. The SP3i is known as the SDA in Europe, and goes by the HTC code-name "Feelers".
Like the JAM, the SP3i is about as small as it gets for a device with these features.