HTC Touch launch - Live report

[intro]Our live report from the launch of HTC's finger-liking smartphone. Does it live up to the hype?[/intro]13.00 Right, well I've got my hands on a

[intro]Our live report from the launch of HTC's finger-liking smartphone. Does it live up to the hype?[/intro]

13.00 Right, well I've got my hands on a device -  I'll be reporting my first impressions over on my Future Stuff blog very soon.

12.38 There's been a question about getting data into the device - we haven't been shown how to type on it. The answers are really evasive but yes, the phone has a stylus after all! 

12.32 Apparently the Touch isn't HSDPA. It isn't even 3G. In fact, it's only tri-band. So it doesn't have that up on the iPhone after all. Shame. 

12.31 There's been a question about cost - they think it'll be subsidised by networks, but the unsubsidised price is Euro 449 - slightly more than the iPhone, with the current exchange rate... but the iPhone has a two-year contract too, so the Touch may well work out significantly cheaper. 12.30 Right, time for the Q&A. And the first question - what has it got that the iPhone hasn't? Well, it's available today, we're told. Apparently the HTC guys haven't seen the iPhone, so they can't comment further. Hmmm.   

12.29  Is it possible to draw a conclusion about Vodafone not being here? With Orange and T-Mobile in the room, and O2 with a big relationship with HTC, Vodafone is the only big UK network that won't - potentially - carry the touch. Could they have bagged the iPhone instead? Recent rumours have suggested T-Mobile is in pole position to land Apple's phone, but if it really is would T-Mobile's MD be up here promoting the iPhone's biggest rival?


12.26 Orange will not be launching the Touch as an SPV - they'll sell it as HTC, proof that the brand is really growing

12.24 Yves Maitre, VP of Orange Group has arrived, out of breath, having just run to the venue. Clearly he wants to be here... he's saying that technology works on dog years rather than human years: ever one year is worth six in the world of tech.  

12.22 Jim Hyde is saying the HTC Touch is a consumer device as well as a business one, and by the look of it I have to agree - it's small and looks like it's pretty easy to use.  Bet it's still got a stylus built in, though! There hasn't been much in the way of specifics about the phone, but as soon as I get more details I'll let you  know!

12.20 T-Mobile's MD Jim Hyde is up on stage bragging about having HSDPA over T-Mobile's network, so the Touch presumably has super 3G built in - another one up on the iPhone. 

12.18 Good news: the UK launch of the touch is this week, and it'll be available in the rest of Europe this month. Asia will also come this month, with American versions in the second half of 2007. Eat that, Apple.  

12.15 "After today you'll never look at mobile phones in the same way again." We're bing treated to a video. The phone looks nice, it had to be said, and the interface is a long way from the Windows Mobile of yore. But it's just

12.11 you can scroll with gestures, too, just like the iPhone.

12.10 Right, the phone: there's no bezel, for a start. Ok. And it's easy to access info at a glance - using your fingers rather than a stylus. This means bigger icons and a simpler interface. And yes, there are gestures - swipe your finger up the screen and you can access contacts. Swipe across to switch interfaces.

12.07 John Wang, the CMO (and former Chief Innovation Wizard - cool title). "Touch is the first sensation we experience." Yup, this guy's definitely in marketing.  "What you're about to see is... a watershed as important as the mouse... HTC is going to transform the way we experience mobility moving forward." But not backwards, presumably. Sounds very familiar... has he been listening to Mr Jobs, perchance?

12.06 We're now being treated to a video of Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, who's looking slightly psychotic. As usual. It's those piercing blue eyes. He doesn't do much more than big up HTC. And, of course, Windows. 

12.02 We're now being shown the touch. It's a lozenge-shaped smartphone.  Compared to previous HTC products, it's significantly smaller. It's designed for easier use with, you've guessed it, your fingers.

12.00 In 2000, HTC made the iPaq for Compaq. In 2002 they made the Orange SPV and O2 XDA - all landmarks. So what next? One thing's for sure - it'll run Windows Mobile  (otherwise the Microsoft employees in the room are gonna be mighty disappointed!). Despite my caustic comments in my future stuff blog yesterday, I'm told that Windows Mobile 6 really is a blessing, not  a curse...

11.59 HTC has just celebrated its 10th anniversary; now it has nearly 5000 employees with 1245 of them involved in R&D. And finally, they're making smartphones under their own brand, not just for the networks.

11.55BST "We're about to announce something very very exciting," we're told. HTC's CEO & President Peter Chow is taking the stage. 

Deep inside the bowels of the Sound nightclub, on London's Leicester Square, a hundred-odd journalists fight over bandwidth as we await the latest smartphone announcement from HTC. Things are about to begin.