HTC Really, Really Quietly Acquired i-mate?

Ever wondered what happened to i-mate? After going bankrupt, and possibly leaving their CEO in danger of heading to Dubai’s debtor’s prison… news became a bit too quiet. The company was believed to have owned patents, a wide range of powerful devices, a couple of aging Windows Mobile applications, and a ruggedized phone platform that was starting to take off.

That last one may have been the motivating factor for HTC to acquire the company. HTC has struggled with ruggedized Windows Mobile phones, and that was i-mate’s last-ditch effort to save the company.

There is little-to-no information on the acqusition. In fact, the only way we found out about it was when HTC posted a phone number indicating that they were honoring i-mate warranties.

In case you were wondering about where i-mate cratered, you can now check that off your list of mysteries. Oddly enough, i-mate ran into financial (not to mention technical) difficulties when they struggled to break free from HTC as an Original Device Manufacturer (ODM). It seems a bit ironic that their final internal designs warranted HTC to acquire the company.

Christopher Price is the Founding Editor of PhoneNews.com. Today, he leads the team building Console, Inc. - a new kind of Android™ device. He still likes to pontificate... a lot. You can visit his personal blog at ChristopherPrice.net.

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15 responses to “HTC Really, Really Quietly Acquired i-mate?”

  1. Patrick

    Watch the news from the CES, Las Vegas starting the 7th of January 2010!

  2. Kevin

    Before HTC “fired” all their ODM customers a couple of years ago, they were the manufacturer of the i-mate and many other branded phones. I think this is the reason for the posting of this phone number, not that HTC has take over i-mate. They simply are giving owners of older HTC built products a way to get them repaired.

    As far as I know (and I worked at i-mate in the US), there is little to nothing of value in the i-mate phones that would interested HTC and nothing exotic that HTC could not reverse engineer. The 810-F is the only product that i-mate actually engineered. None of the “Ultimate” series were engineered by i-mate as that was done by other OEM manufacturers in China, not i-mate.

    I think this is jumping to a conclusion based on seeing the mention of i-mate on the HTC repair website. There is nothing based in fact to back up this report as it’s all conjecture.

  3. Kyle

    How about some investigative journalism for a change? Ask yourself why HTC ditched i-mate, their biggest OEM at the time, especially as they had just floated on the AIM. Could it be a deal gone sour? Perhaps HTC did buy some of i-mate but didn’t get what was promised. Would the be likley to buy anything from i-mate again? Once bitten, twice shy.

  4. james

    looking at the page on the htc site, if you read the text, it is pretty clear it is for NON warranty repairs only, a revenue generating service, for htc made devices OR do we assume HTC have also aquired AT&T, Siemens and T-mobile as well ? As the list includes, Siemens, iMate, T-Mobile, Cingular / AT&T, HTC, all HTC manufactured

  5. Kevin

    Please read the HTC page again. It CLEARLY is for out of warranty devices:

    “Repair Program

    If you have a device that is out of warranty and wish to have it repaired or an HTC branded device that needs service, please contact the appropriate number below or email us at repair_inquiry@htc.com.”

    To me this is clear that they are offering OUT OF WARRANTY repair services for i-mate devices. Since they aren’t likely to have any spare parts for the 810-F or Ultimate devices not made by HTC, it might be hard for them to repair them. This page may refer to the older, HTC built/i-mate branded devices.

    Then again it might be a smart marketing ploy – get people to send in their broken non-HTC devices and then give them a discount on a new HTC equivalent model to secure a new customer. Brilliant!

    Thanks Christoper for your continued work to delve into the i-mate situation. I have been posting links to some of these articles on a “Former i-mate employee” group on LinkedIn to keep my former colleagues informed.

    — Kevin

  6. Kyle

    The Ultimate devices used the Ericsson radio chip and was not subject to the Broadcom/Qualcomm disupte.

  7. Karen

    So…would you recommend buying an phone made by I-mate considering they are going through bankruptcy? I don’t know a lot about phones and I have a friend who would like to buy one with wireless that works in Eastern Europe (where they live) and doesn’t have a lot of money to spend. The 8502 can be purchased on some websites for around $185. Thanks in advance for your input.

  8. Prometheus

    OK, So I own an Imate 810-F and the screen is cracked should I send it to these guys to have it repaired? I’ve called all around and no one seems to have a clue as to where a replacement part is. Not to mention it’s still under “Warranty” as I bought it in September last year and the went belly up basically the same month. What do I do???

  9. Anthony

    does anyone have a cradle for an imate 810 f

  10. Padlock09

    Anyone know what’s going on with former iMate CEO’s huge divorce battle?