The fine kids at WPDang.com have got their hands on the alternative-reality version of HTC Titan (rebranded as the “Triumph” in China, as we have known for some time). Here’s the new stuff and “specially for China” stuff they’ve found in the retail unit:
1. The OS version is “8765.WM7_Main_Ship (mojobld).20120217-1649″. Don’t know why they kept that funny version number in the final build. Pretty honest one. Build 8765, ready for shipping, built on 16:49, Feb 17, 2012… The “mojobld” part is still a mystery though.
2. Xbox Live. As we covered earlier, these fine game titles are hidden from Chinese users. The good news is that if you log into a Chinese HTC Triumph with a Live ID whose location is set to be elsewhere, you can still see Xbox Live titles popping up. They are just hidden to Chinese users, no completely axed from the OS.
2. The People Hub. Ironically, there’s NO new stuff here. On the contrary, some of the old stuff has been ripped off. We have always been talking about localization (especially built-in SNS services) of Windows Phone “Tango” specially for China. So apparently here is what Microsoft has achieved spending months of precious time. Twitter and Facebook are ripped off completely, so is LinkedIn (which is NOT blocked by China’s Great Firewall). On the other hand, popular Chinese SNS such as Tencent Weibo, Sina Weibo, and Renren.com have NOT been included as replacement. It’s just Live or Google now. And logging into the phone with a US-based Live account doesn’t bring the other options back. This is looking reeeeaaaally bad.
3. Preloaded apps. The Triumph comes with a bunch of preloaded apps, some of them literally come with the phone, some tucked away in a section called “preloaded” in the Chinese version of HTC Hub. By a certain sense, the latter are kind of “pre”, but not really loaded. You’ve got to find the links in HTC Hub, click, and download from the Marketplace. The app collection is quite fine though. Without boring you guys with unfamiliar names, let’s just say it includes the Chinese equivalent of YouTube, the Chinese equivalent of Facebook and Twitter, the Chinese equivalent of Yelp, the Chinese equivalent of Kayak, the Chinese equivalent of Kik/WhatsApp. In short, the Chinese equivalent of whatever the international smartphone user society feel important. Not bad.
4. Multiple attachments in MMS, as we have been expecting from Windows Phone Tango. Not really a surprise.
All in all, the HTC Triumph seems pretty much doomed in its current shape. Firstly it’s as expensive as any Android flagship but you are getting a lot weaker raw processing power with that money. Secondly, what defines Windows Phone from iOS and Android is not there any more. Social network integration is not there, and Xbox Live is not there. So how exactly is Windows Phone (specially cooked up for China) different from its competitors? A radically different UI? We all know Microsoft is fighting an uphill battle in this smartphone war, and a nice UI alone is hardly the killer weapon.
Let’s hope this problem gets sorted out in the immediate future, probably by OS updates.
Can’t help wondering though: Windows Phone was first launched in October of 2010, and is to be brought into China this very month. That’s one year and a half in between. Microsoft has always been saying the delay in China is for “localization”. Looks like I’m getting old. Technologies these days are insanely complicated, even DELETING stuff from a product takes that long time…