On Monday, HTC, the manufacturer of many of today's popular smartphones, announced its acquisition of San Francisco-based design firm One & Company Design, Inc (One & Co). A design company? Weird, right? Actually, not really.
If you've followed HTC over the years, you may have noticed its smartphones taking on a new look recently. The company has gone from the traditional Pocket PC-phone form factor of the HTC Mogul and the smaller but still bulky HTC SMT5800 to the sleeker HTC Touch Diamond and sexier HTC Touch Pro, and this is in large part due to One & Co, whose client list includes Adidas, Sony, K2 Snowboards, Coca-Cola, Kodak, and the North Face. (One & Co will continue to serve its current clients in addition to the consultancy work for HTC.)
The two companies started working together in 2006 to develop the Touch Diamond, and have since collaborated on the HTC S740, Touch Pro, and Touch HD. Now, with the acquisition, One & Co's 17 employees will work with HTC's design teams in Taiwan and Seattle to create future devices, including the 2009 portfolio.
"One & Co is excited to bring our lifestyle, user focused approach to HTC and we look forward to creating iconic, compelling products together," said Scott Croyle, partner of One & Co. "Knowing about HTC's cutting edge technology and proven track record of innovation, we are excited to collaborate with HTC as a global lifestyle brand."
Was it wise of HTC to invest in a design firm? Well, it makes sense when you consider that a lot of smartphones these days offer a lot of the same features and functionality and in those cases, design becomes the differentiating factor. Plus, people want a cool-looking device with wow factor. I met with HTC and One & Co on Monday, and both parties said they are committed to developing smartphones to fit people's different lifestyles and are willing to take risks with design. Sounds dangerous, but we're looking forward to seeing what the team comes up with in the new year.