HTC Wildfire launch event – Driving a Porsche Carrera GT3 @ Circuit Park Zandvoort

Tuesday I was invited for the local HTC Wildfire launch event on a special location, Circuit Park Zandvoort. Circuit Park Zandvoort is one of the few car-race tracks in the Netherlands with a rich race history, several race klasses and even Formula 1.

This is a special location to introduce a new product like the HTC Wildfire, right ?

Introduction HTC Wildfire by Mark Moons, Regional Manager HTC Benelux

Mark Moons, Regional Manager HTC Benelux, kicks off the first part of the HTC Wildfire launch event with a general introduction of  the current HTC position in the Benelux (= Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg) market.

HTC in the Benelux – Position and Trends

HTC grows in the Benelux market, (1) in terms of company, and (2) in terms of brand. HTC has a growing marketshare in the Netherlands, which is a trend I could follow over past events (for example Android Experience 2010 – Great Dutch event around the Android Ecosystem, and HTC HD2 locally announced by Mark Moons (HTC Benelux).

Mark Moons, Regional Manager HTC Benelux, raises a few highly interesting points about dynamics in the market.

  1. The smartphone is becoming more mainstream, which means for the HTC brand a shift from technology brand to a more lifestyle position.
  2. Furthermore there is a clear impact of social media on the use of smartphones, share your life always and everywhere. People who are engaging in social networks from a smartphone are more active/involved compared to traditional use behind the screen of a notebook.

To wrap-up this section HTC is the market leader on the Windows Mobile- and the Android operating system, and as an example don’t forget the huge success of the HTC Hero !


Meet the HTC Wildfire

In the picture above you can see that Mark Moons, Regional Manager HTC Benelux shows the HTC Wildfire in front of an aerial photograph of Circuit Park Zandvoort. On MobilityMinded I have published an article “HTC Wildfire preview – Android & HTC Sense for the masses” that covers a preview of the HTC Wildfire hardware, and hopefully a thorough and in-depth review can be performed later.

In this section I will provide additional background information, underlying some of the key features of the HTC Wildfire. However I will start with the following summary of the HTC Wildfire on the HTC website:

“You have lots of friends in lots of different place. Why not bring them to you? See everyone’s Facebook, Twitter and Flickr updates, all in one feed. Share your favourite apps, because your mates will love them too. And get everything from texts, to photo’s organized by the friend that sent it – not to mention their latest Facebook status when they call. HTC Wildfire. Your friends have never been closer to you.”


Social networks take over the world

As mentioned before by Mark Moons, social networks are a catalyst for smartphones and their use.

  • Facebook:  500 mln users;
  • Twitter:  40 mln users;
  • Flickr: 32 mln users;

The numbers from the presentation don’t need much of an explenation, social networks take over the world. 🙂

Android Market – An explosion of applications

The second set of statistics provided by Mark Moons, Regional Manager of HTC Benelux is about the Android Market.

  • There are more than 54.000 applications in the Android Market and counting;
  • Forecast:  150.000 applications in the Android Market by Q4 2010;
  • Android users download -on average- 8.7 applications per month;
  • 60% of the applications in the Android Market are free;

While in my honest opinion the number off applications doesn’t tell anything about the quality of the applications, these statiscs do show that there is a clear momentum for developers to jump on the Android train. However it is interesting to see the explosive growth of an open source based mobile operating system like Android, compared to the closed mobile operating system of the Apple iPhone.


Google Maps Navigation will become available in the Netherlands this month, and combined with Android 2.1 and the option to share applications with your friends, brings this the best of Android to the HTC Wildfire. If you add 3.2″ capacitive touchscreen supporting multi-touch, the HTC Sense GUI and an excellent 5.0 megapixel camera to this, you can only conclude that the HTC Wildefire is ready to target the segment “between” the feature phone and the smartphone. Given the price point of E259,- (including VAT and excluding a subscription) HTC is clearly comitted to play a tough retail game !


Paul van Splunteren, Dutch GT4-teamowner Porsche Eindhoven provides tips and tricks about Circuit- and F1 racing

Paul van Splunteren, Dutch GT4-teamowner Porsche Eindhoven, delivers the second session of the HTC Wildfire launch event in which he shares his tips and tricks about racing on Circuit Park Zandvoort combined with his own car-racing-experience. Paul van Splunteren, will compete in the legendary 24 hours race of Le Mans upcoming June, and has a well established track record in car racing.

  • Circuit Park Zandvoort, and how to race on a track like this;
  • A well balanced curve technique on race circuit is extremely important;
  • Physical health of drivers, heart rates and g-forces;
  • A thorough comparision between GT3 / GT4 and F1, differences in speed and power;
  • Don’t forget to enjoy the race experience !!

In think Paul van Splunteren, shared quite some interesting facts about car-racing ! Being an active road cyclist I could grasp a feeling about the heart rates and physical health of the drivers, which is highly underestimated.

Do you also remember that HTC Benelux is the main sponosor of the Dutch GT4 championship and the sponsor of Team Bilderberg Porsche Eindhoven ?

“The partnership of HTC and Team Bilderberg Porsche Eindhoven is a strong combination of companies driven by values like innovation, design and speed. In addition to extensive relationshop marketing closely tied to the Porsche brand, HTC and Team Bilderberg Porsche Eindhoven work together on new mobile applications for car-race enthusiasts and Porsche drivers to get the most out of their HTC Smartphones!”


Picture used with permision of Chris Schotanus, Essay Producties

Porsche Carrera GT3 race-experience on Circuit Park Zandvoort

With all the tips, tricks and shared experience of Paul van Splunteren, Dutch GT4-teamowner Porsche Eindhoven, it was time for our own race experience on Circuit Park Zandvoort in a Porsche Carerra GT3 !

In the group photograph above I’m on the 6th position from the left, next to Mark Moons, Regional Manager of HTC Benelux (wearing a black blouse and holding the helmet in front of me). While at the picture you see the Team Bilderberg Porsche Eindhoven Porsche GT4 car, we were able to drive a Porsche Carrera GT3 on Circuit Park Zandvoort.

I must admit this was my first drive on a race track, so this was an exciting experience. Amazing to feel the power and acceleration of the Porsche Carrera GT3, and the stability riding curves is simply awesome. After a few laps you really start to feel the car and get a good flow in the curves, and you really enjoy the ride. On the straight line to the finish you get a speed of about 200 km/h, but inside the Porsche you simply don’t have the feeling driving that fast. Also the roll cage, race seats and helmet give a nice touch of a real race and get the adrenaline flowing ! 🙂

I started with the first group of six cars, so I was able to see the other two groups race as well. The experience from the pit lane is different, mainly because it looks so much faster as a spectator. However it was extreme fun to see the others race, while I also enjoyed the other race cars on the track like a Corvette C6 and even a Radical S3, which was also on the track when I raced !! Impressive to hear the torque and mussle from these race cars.


Final thoughts and conclusion

I would like to thank HTC Benelux and Whizpr for the invitation to this special HTC Wildfire product launch on a very interesting location.

Everyone present at the launch event could really experience the results of “a strong combination of companies driven by values like innovation, design and speed“. The synergy and similar mindset of HTC and Team Bilderberg Porsche Eindhoven resulted in a great race experience on Circuit Park Zandvoort. Two great brands with a drive to be a leader come together on the same place: the race track !

Like I mentione before it was my first time riding on a circuit, and the driving behavior and power of the Porsche Carrera GT3 really made it an exciting experience. In order to get an additional idea of the day you might want to check out the set of pictures on my Flickr-account, or the imagebank of Chris Schotanus, Essay Producties.

Finally I do believe that with the HTC Wildfire, HTC has an interesting device  to play the retail-game to win and bring both HTC Sense and Android to the masses !

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