HTC on Tuesday vowed to start investing in emerging technologies more aggressively moving forward, with Chairwoman Cher Wang identifying that endeavor as a crucial component of the company's plan for achieving long-term sustainability. Among other things, the Taipei, Taiwan-based original equipment manufacturer is looking to commit more financial resources to its existing virtual reality efforts, as well as augmented reality, 5G, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things segment. HTC is seeing all of those research and development paths as potentially highly beneficial for its smartphone business as it expects handsets of the future to be significantly different than what consumers can access today.
The investments are also meant to support HTC's other operations, though no concrete diversification plans have yet been laid out by the firm. The company is also looking into blockchain technologies, Ms. Wang confirmed. The executive also pointed to HTC's $1.1 billion talent sale to Google as the financial injection the OEM needed for committing significant resources to new technologies. Besides releasing some 2,000 engineers, HTC also provided Google with non-exclusive rights to its vast patent portfolio as part of the same deal.
In the near term, HTC is still expected to continue pursuing VR solutions through its Vive unit and maintain a careful approach to the smartphone market where it's been losing money for years. The company recently posted the worst fiscal year in its history, losing approximately $580 million over the course of 2017. The number of handset models it's releasing this year will also go down compared to previous periods, according to recent reports. Flagships are the number one mobile category where HTC started winding down its ambitions, with the newly released U12 Plus being likely the only premium Android device from the company in 2018. Earlier this year, the firm followed up on its premier headset with the Vive Pro VR that's presently widely believed to be the most capable solution of its kind available to consumers.