HTC move to test ads on BlinkFeed app angers users

HTC will incorporate ads in its media aggregation app in select markets

HTC’s BlinkFeed is part news aggregator, part social app.

HTC’s BlinkFeed is part news aggregator, part social app.

As HTC faces shrinking revenue, the smartphone vendor is testing ads over its BlinkFeed media aggregation app, and some users aren't happy.

On Tuesday, HTC said it had begun rolling out an update to its BlinkFeed app that would include advertisements for users in the U.S., the U.K., China and a few other markets.

The ads, for now, will be in a limited number, and promote sponsored apps, in addition to HTC accessories and devices, the company said in a blog post.

"Because these are native ads, they will appear like a typical BlinkFeed post rather than as a pop-up or banner ad," HTC added. However, users will be given an option to opt out from seeing the ads.

Many HTC customers are opposed to the change. Several users posted to HTC's blog post, complaining.

"I don't buy a phone to enjoy my amazing ads," wrote one user.

BlinkFeed debuted back in 2013 as a software feature found on HTC phones. It works as a scrolling news and social media feed that can sit on the handset's home screen. Users can customize the information sources displayed.

In its Tuesday blog post, HTC stressed that the inclusion of ads was a pilot project. "It's too soon for us to say when or if these promotions will be rolled out to additional markets," HTC added.

Financially, the company has been struggling, amid heated competition with Apple, Samsung and emerging Chinese smartphones vendors. Earlier this month, HTC revised its earning projections for this year's second quarter, stating that revenue would be down further than expected on weakening demand for high-end phones.

The dire situation has caused some to wonder if HTC should be acquired. But HTC has said it will continue developing hit products, and look for opportunities outside smartphones.

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Michael Kan

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