HTC iPhone rival launches in Taiwan Saturday

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High Tech Computer’s Touch Diamond handset, the company’s answer to the iPhone 3G, will be launched in Taiwan on Saturday as a series of promotional events begins leading up to sales of the phone at the end of the month, the company said Friday.

The suggested retail price of the handset is NT$23,900 (US$786). The price is only for Taiwan and does not reflect possible subsidies by service providers that want to bundle the handset with a 3G (third-generation) contract. Still, it’s nearly quadruple the price of Apple’s new iPhone, which now sells for just $199.

HTC may have lowered its price a bit due to the iPhone launch, however. A few weeks ago, people familiar with the situation said the Touch Diamond would cost NT$26,000.

The Touch Diamond is a Microsoft Windows Mobile-based 3G handset with a 2.8-inch touchscreen, GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver and 3.2-megapixel camera. The iPhone boasts a 3.5-inch touchscreen, and many of the same wireless technologies, but only has a 2.0-megapixel camera.

Taiwan isn’t the first place the Touch Diamond will go on sale. HTC shipped some handsets to Hong Kong CSL, a mobile service provider last month, late last month. People in Hong Kong could buy the handset on May 31.

Apple’s announcement of a $199 price for the new 3G iPhone has shaken up smartphone makers. HTC’s stock, which is listed in Taiwan, plunged after Apple’s announcement over fears the iPhone’s price will undercut HTC’s smartphone prices.

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