10 years in the technology business is a long time. Time for a revolution, or two. Time for a niche market player to becomes the world’s largest, most talked about company. Things change. During the last 10 years, HTC and Apple have been involved in a dispute over patent infringments. Complex and slow, patent battles can go on for years, cost millions of dollars in legal fees and as we saw with Apple & Samsung’s recent US patent outcome, cost the losing party alot of money. In Samsung’s case, a billion dollars, but we don’t know how much it cost HTC, the Taiwanese electronics company founded in 1997 by Peter Chou, Cher Wang and H.T. Cho.
Earlier this year, the International Trade Commission halted sale of HTCs premier Android phone the One X and the EVO 4G LTE for Sprint in the USA. With a relatively small share of the handset market, and with a significant message given by the ITC, HTC may well have decided that this was one to settle. Apple’s potential win of damages against HTC, was going to be limited. A licensing deal and a clean slate seemed the sensible option.
However, HTC remains a member of the Open Handset Alliance, a group of handset manufacturers and telecoms operators committed to the advancement of the Android platform. The HTC Dream, (also called the T-Mobile G1), was the first phone on the market to use the Android platform. This is a company of firsts; The EVO 4G was the first 4G phone available in the US, the first Microsoft-powered smartphone (2002) and the first Microsoft 3G phone (2005). They also created the the iPAQ. Good heritage. And I say relatively small market-share. Somehwere approaching 5%. Ranked by company value, are number three, behind Apple and Samsung. Now more valuable than Nokia, HTC is committed to R&D, with around a quarter of all staff involved in product developmen. Opened in 2011 in Durham, North Carolina their dedicated wireless devlopment group appear to be at the forefront of wireless inoovation, with talk that HTC may even develop a rival smartphone OS to Android and iOS. Whether this happens or not, they are undeniably innovative and make quality good handsets. Apple put this one to bed and will focus on teh bigger Android challenge from Samsung and Co, but HTC could well do something clever in the year ahead.
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