HTC has most to lose if Android skins are sent packing, exclusive Top10.com research has revealed.
Custom user interfaces, such as HTC Sense or Motorola’s MotoBlur, are overlaid by phone makers on top of the Android operating system and offer buyers the chance to customise their handset’s layout and typically have a voguish social networking focus.
Manufacturers used them to distinguish their smartphones from those of rivals and provide a user experience that was unique to their brand.
HTC’s Sense UI in particular is believed to have been a significant factor behind the success of HTC handsets such as the Desire and Legend.
However, the future of skins is now in doubt after they caused extensive delays to updates of Google’s operating system as manufacturers encountered problems making them compatible with each new iteration of the software.
A study of 171 smartphone users conducted by Top10.com found that HTC Sense is regarded as the best custom user interface by almost three quarters of respondents, polling 74.9 per cent of the vote.
The Taiwanese company’s nearest rival was Samsung’s TouchWiz with 14.6 per cent. In third and fourth places respectively were Sony Ericsson’s Nexus UX (7.9 per cent) and Motorola’s Motoblur (2.9 per cent).
The findings suggest that HTC phones’ appeal could be significantly reduced if compatibility problems with skins continue, leaving the company facing the loss of its handsets’ unique selling points.
Industry consensus that Android custom user interfaces could soon be a thing of the past has grown in recent months after it became clear that future updates of the platform will enable it to handle tasks which previously only skins were able to manage.
This is believed to have been the impetus for Motorola recently announcing Motoblur will no longer be the focus of its Android mobiles.