If you can’t beat them, make them use your software. That strategy has actually worked pretty well for Microsoft in the mobile space, and HTC might be copying those tactics. The company is sending out invites to test Sense Home 8 on non-HTC devices, which is almost unheard of in the Android smartphone market.
We’ve seen companies offer their core apps to other devices via the Play Store (and HTC has even done that before) but never the central home application. The thought of running TouchWiz on a Motorola phone, for instance, just seems really absurd, and for the most part I doubt you’d find too many willing volunteers. HTC seems to think that their launcher has enough unique tricks to pull in other users, though.
They’re currently sending out invites to users with Android devices that are running 4.4 and up, and obviously aren’t HTC devices. No word on when testing will actually start happening, but if invites are going out it’s probably going to be soon.
Despite being a completely unorthodox move, it does kind of make sense for HTC. Hardware sales just aren’t great for the company, and it doesn’t seem like they’re ever going to climb back up to take back #1 from Samsung, so releasing software for other phones gives HTC two advantages.
The first is that it shows other customers what they could possibly get with an HTC device, which might make them switch later on. Sense 8 might come to other phones, but we all know it probably won’t really be Sense 8. It will have most of the features, but not all, in a way that will dangle a carrot for someone to upgrade to an HTC device next time around.
The second advantage is that it opens up an avenue for HTC to try and turn a profit with software sales or advertising. BlinkFeed already sells ad space, but only to HTC users. If HTC can get BlinkFeed (and those ads) on more screens, they stand to make more money. Selling home screen themes and icon packs and things of that nature are on the table, too.
Or, the higher-ups at HTC just don’t know how to run a company anymore and this is a dumb move that won’t keep them from failing. I feel like you can make arguments either way here. Who knows.