The Chinese smartphone market has quickly become one of, if not the largest smartphone markets on the planet. With growth not seen anywhere else, there's potential to make some big bucks in the Far East. HTC know this and over the last 12 months they've been stepping up their game in the East. With flagship devices like the Butterly designed just for the East and budget devices that cater for every price range, HTC know how to play it in the Far East.
While they've upped their game when it comes to hardware, things aren't so great on the software front. Sure, their build of Sense 5 has Chinese translations but with Xiaomi and Meizu shipping their own Chinese-orientated skins, Sense doesn't cut it. This is where the rumor that HTC was working with the Chinese Government to create their own "OS". However, it was unknown whether or not this was a fork of Android, a la Amazon's Kindle Fire, or just another skin on top of Android. It's more than likely that HTC will just be creating their own skin, as forking Android is likely to anger Google. As a member of the Open Handset Alliance, HTC pledges to ship only "compatible" versions of Android and forking may go against that.
We now have our first look at what could be the homescreen for HTC's Chinese "OS" and while we're not experts, the below shot looks a lot like something from Sense 5.
Even the clock font looks like something you'd find on an Android device from HTC. Developing their own skin for the Chinese market would make a lot more sense as there's nothing to stop Android apps continuing to work as normal. However, the rumor that this was developed with the Chinese Government does raise suspicion that Google and their services could be kicked to the curb for home-grown services.
There's a good chance that this could be a faked screenshot someone has cooked up but, if it isn't then it means that HTC is making progress on their own skin/OS/fork or whatever it's going to be. Creating another skin for a very different region could be a good idea for HTC and if the West is looking more and more like a lost market to them, then focusing closer to home might be the way forward for the company.