HTC's new Desire Z and HD phones offer something to buy in hopes of sweetening the deal: Sense.
The Desire HD features a 4.3-inch LED display, Android 2.2 OS, Dolby Mobile, and SRS sound, 720p video capture, and a 1GHz, 8255 Snapdragon processor.The HTC Desire Z offers a slide-out keyboard, 3.7-inch screen, and a 800 MHz processor. It's essentially the T-Mobile G2 with Froyo.
But both phones feature Sense, a service similar to Apple's MobileMe, which can provide IT managers with a free way to wipe a phone remotely or to back up e-mails or text messages.
Granted, some of the features are offered in the Android 2.2 and can sync with Microsoft Exchange, which is great if your company already has it. (Apple's MobileMe service also charges a fee.)
However, usage of HTCSense.com comes free with each Desire. That alone may not be enough to change anyone's software choices, but it does let companies who aren't already using a system have a free one already in place.
Aside from the remote wiping and backups, HTCSense also can locate a lost phone, send maps and forward calls--services that aren't offered by anyone else for free just yet. In addition, the new Sense user interface allows users to juggle seven different homes screens, sort messages, and distort or change photos--and it has better map navigation, likely due to its digital compass and cached maps.
While each individual phone user can access the site, obviously IT managers will need to handle passwords and accounts to be able to track the phones (and perhaps even the users) and perform any remote functions. While there is some slight risk that someone could hack into the Website create some malicious mischief, the disadvantages probably don't outweigh the smartphone's advantages.
The HTC Desire isn't an iPhone killer because its main competition is other Android phones. And as the Android OS gains in popularity, smartphone manufacturers now have to distinguish themselves any way they can from the next Android phone.
While HTC's Desire isn't physically very different from other smartphones on the market, the company is wisely capitalizing on the one thing other phones can't give--a useful and free Web service.
Reach or follow Barbara E. Hernandez on Twitter @bhern .