Mobile telco Vodafone Hutchison Australia tonight gave several indications it wasn’t willing to let its flagship HTC Desire HD handset be used on other carriers’ networks, confirming it would have exclusive Australian distribution “forever” and that it would not offer an outright purchase price for the device.
The Desire HD is being billed as the “big brother” to the popular HTC Desire handset which launched exclusively on Telstra’s Next G network in April this year to great popularity. The launch of the high-end handset is credited in the mobile industry with vaulting Google’s Android operating system to a level where it is now rivalling Apple’s iPhone series in terms of popularity down under.
VHA general manager of Devices and Pricing Ross Parker was asked at a ritzy launch at the Astral Bar at Sydney’s Star City Casino tonight whether VHA would hold the exclusivity on the handset “forever, forever”. Parker confirmed the arrangement.
In addition, the VHA executive confirmed, there would be no immediate pricing plan where customers could buy the handset outright – meaning those who want the Desire HD will need to sign up to a monthly contract with VHA.
“We want to sell this to Vodafone customers,” he said. VHA will launch the handset for zero dollars upfront on a $59 monthly plan – which constitutes a special $10 monthly discount.
In general, Parker said he expected the HTC Desire HD to rival Apple’s iPhone 4, which launched several months ago, in terms of its popularity with customers. “Within our customer base – the feedback we’ve had – this is the most anticipated product we’ve seen over the past 12 months,” he told journalists. “I would certainly expect, for our existing customers, that this would be challenging the popularity of the iPhone 4.”
Parker also praised Taiwan-based HTC in general, stating it was currently “the manufacturer which is delivering the best experience for the customer” on the Android platform.
“We’re pleased to see the partnership growing,” he said of the relationship between HTC and VHA. The executive noted that the HTC Legend – which has reduced specifications compared with the Desire and Desire HD – had been selling “tremendously well” for VHA. “Everyone’s been looking forward to that next step,” he said.
The VHA executive said he personally had been using the Desire HD for “a couple of months now”, describing it as the best device he had ever used, and noting VHA expected the handset to be its number one product over the Christmas period.
In general Parker said VHA also saw Android as representing “a massive opportunity” at the moment, pointing out Google’s baby was currently outselling the line-ups offered by both Apple and Research in Motion in the United States market.
Android-based handsets are offered by a number of manufacturers – such as HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG and so on, while large manufacturers such as Apple, RIM and Nokia have preferred to focus on their own mobile operating systems.
Image credit: HTC