Today's event was impressive.
Not because of the super slick production, not because of the huge attendance (which, although Nokia would have you think otherwise, had little to do with it being the same week as NokiaWorld), not because of the new updates to Sense, not because of the HTCSense.com online services nor even because of the 2 cool new devices that HTC announced.
No, today's event was impressive for me because of the place it now puts HTC at in the mobile world (at least in Europe). For now, it is clear that HTC have put their weight firmly behind Android... and what a product line they have. Wildfire, Legend, Desire, Desire Z and Desire HD... all great devices in their own right, but as a set of products they cover the breadth of the what the smartphone buyer would be looking for.
Not only are the devices themselves impressive however, the rounding out of Sense and the coupled online services mean that the user experience that started as TouchFlo back on the HTC Touch is now a formidable weapon in the important battles of user satisfaction and differentiation. For most smartphone users (and I know there are some that will disagree with this statement), Sense provides a far superior experience to stock Android. Couple this with the new back end HTCSense.com services and you have a very compelling reason for consumers to either buy a HTC product initially, or to buy a second HTC product to replace their current phone.
Such is the breadth of innovations in the new Sense update that not all of them were talked about in the presentation today. Small features like skins and sounds sets will be very appealing to a lot of users, onboard maps is a clear point of competition with Nokia's Ovi Maps and most interestingly of all, a snoop around the devices on display seemed to suggest that HTC are creating their own application ecosystem of some sort. The devices on show contained a Market, but it wasn't the Android Market. It was a 'HTC Likes' application tied into the 'HTC Hub', with apps available for download. What form exactly this takes remains to be seen, but taking into account the fact that paid applications are still not available in many parts of the globe (and given the potential revenue HTC could make from running their own market), it seems to make sense. There's a lot of scope for HTC making additional revenue from on device content (they surely take a cut of the Kobo ebook sales, why not do the same with apps and music?). Watch this space.
So what now?
With a rounded out and great looking Android range, I expect HTCs announcements to turn to Windows Phone 7 in the next month. It's likely October will see HTC announce their WP7S device(s), although exactly what form this will take is as yet unknown. All HTC will say is that they are fully committed to supporting Microsoft's new platform.
One thing's for sure, HTC is here to stay and they're playing with the big boys now. Watch out.