A new report suggests that HTC will be cooperating with fellow Taiwanese company Jabon International on their next smartphone. Jabon will be supplying the Liquidmetal chassis to HTC and their labors are expected to come to fruition in the second half of 2013. HTC is not the first company to delve into the possibilities that Liquidmetal could offer, with Apple signing a two-year contract with Liquidmetal Intellectual. Apple’s contract has resulted in them hiring new talent in order to develop and incorporate it into their products, but as of yet it has only been used in their SIM ejector tool. If HTC is in fact going to down this route they may well beat Apple to the punch using Liquidmetal in their future devices.
The usage of Liquidmetal coincides with HTC’s new direction of using premium materials in their devices. Despite its name, Liquidmetal is not a liquid at room temperature but, it does carry similar properties of liquids. Liquidmetal’s unique amorphous nature gives it an advantage over other materials that are currently being used in devices. Compared to aluminium and plastic, Liquidmetal is incredibly resistant to wear, this means if it is used in a device it will not be easily scuffed and scratched from daily usage, unlike certain other products. Liquidmetal is also capable of being cast and molded, this allows a simplification of the manufacturing process, an important property if HTC hope to mass produce devices on the level of Samsung without supply shortages and high costs and manufacturing times.
HTC has recruited a new R&D team to help them bring this material to the market; currently Liquidmetal has had limited success in the global market despite its properties. Despite these reports, HTC’s current chassis supply manufacturer Catcher Technology has not yet heard any reports of its customer adopting Liquidmetal and given the current market demand for aluminium chassis over plastic there appears to be little reason for HTC to reinvent the wheel. Liquidmetal does bring a unique marketing advantage which they could utilize to help restore its market share which might be enough motivation for HTC to bring it to market. Until we receive an official announcement it’s impossible to know for sure whether or not this will happen, but if the reports of the next device being released in the second half of 2013 is true, that means HTC might be adopting a 6 month release cycle, which can leave many current customers embittered, which are dangerous waters for them to tread, given their track record.