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by Barry Silverstein
April 30, 2010

In recently selecting the world’s most innovative companies, the magazine Fast Company picked HTC as #2 in Consumer Electronics, calling the company “the world’s most influential phone manufacturer that nobody ever heard of.” It’s an apt description. For nearly ten years, HTC Corporation, whose initials stand for “High Tech Computer,” was invisibly manufacturing computers and smartphones for other brand name companies.


In fact, it was HTC that actually created Hewlett-Packard’s handheld iPAQ computer. But that all changed in June 2006, when HTC revealed its hand, and its brand, to the world. It made its biggest splash as the creator of the Google-enabled “Droid” smartphone, thus far widely regarded as the only serious competitor to Apple’s iPhone. The competition is so heated, in fact, that Apple (Fast Company’s #1 pick in the Consumer Electronics category) filed a patent infringement lawsuit in a U.S. court against HTC in March 2010. HTC says it will “fully defend itself."

HTC is unusual in many respects. The Taiwanese company, founded in 1997 and chaired by a woman, developed partnerships with the leading five mobile operators in Europe, the top four operators in the U.S., and several Asian operators. It also managed to impress Microsoft with its first smartphone, which led to the development of a Windows-based handset. Instead of diversifying like many of its competitors, the company is laser-focused on its expertise, manufacturing only wireless devices.

HTC prides itself on being a pioneer. It created the first Windows PDA in 1998, the first color palm-size PC in 1999, the first Microsoft pocket PC in 2000, the first Microsoft-powered smartphone in 2002, and the first Google Android smartphone in October 2008. HTC recently designed the Google-branded Nexus One smartphone – the first consumer electronics device Google sold directly to consumers.

Since launching its own brand, HTC has introduced dozens of HTC-branded products around the world, including the HD2 and the HTC Hero, both well received. In late 2009, HTC debuted its first global ad campaign. Using the brand positioning, “Quietly Brilliant,” the multi-media campaign showcased the company’s phones surrounded by the word YOU and supported by the tag line, “You don’t need to get a phone. You need a phone that gets you.” The company says the campaign was designed to create visibility for HTC’s “unique brand promise – that it’s all about YOU, the consumer, and in fact not the device.”

HTC’s latest innovation is the Droid Incredible, introduced at the end of April to rave reviews. It “combines a brilliant screen, Google’s Android operating system, a great camera and slick design in a thin, light package – all the ingredients for a fab phone,” said the Associated Press. PC World added, “Other than some minor design qualms, this smartphone truly lives up to its name… The HTC Droid Incredible might be the best Android phone available.”

April was a busy month for HTC. In addition to launching the Droid Incredible, the company broke ground for its new headquarters in Taipei, which will be completed by the end of 2011. It will include 17 floors on the ground, and five floors for parking below the ground. Eleven of the seventeen floors will house research and development.

Also in April, HTC pulled out of its possible interest in acquiring Palm, the struggling maker of the Pre and Pixi smartphones. At the end of the month, HTC and Microsoft announced a patent licensing deal that essentially protects HTC from a potential lawsuit by Microsoft stemming from HTC’s use of the Google-designed Android operating system. Obviously, HTC doesn’t want to repeat the legal hassle it is having with Apple.

With a robust product line and new worldwide headquarters, where does HTC go from here? Possibly into software. Bloomberg recently reported that HTC was “studying whether to equip phones with its own operating system” in an effort “to reduce its reliance on outside developers.” Competitors like Apple and Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, have platforms of their own.

Still, HTC faces significant challenges, including, of course, the Apple lawsuit. An Apple victory could hurt the company – HTC depends on the United States for about half of its revenue. But a resolution of the case isn’t expected for well over a year. In the meantime, HTC certainly isn’t slowing down its U.S. product introductions or reducing its worldwide marketing programs.


Barry Silverstein has been a frequent brandchannel contributor since 2007. He has thirty years of advertising and marketing experience and is currently a freelance writer and marketing consultant. He founded and ran his own direct marketing agency and held executive positions with Epsilon, a leading database marketing firm and Arnold, a major ad agency. Silverstein is the author of three marketing books, including the McGraw-Hill book, The Breakaway Brand, which he co-authored with Arnold CEO Fran Kelly.

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HTC - on call
 HTC phones promise a lot, but don't always live up to their promises. I've had an HTC phone for 5 years now and the things they are capable of is perfect for anyone using it for business and the best bit for me is the perfect syncronisation with your PC.

But too often, when you need it most, it freezes or just doesn't do what it is supposed to do and it appears that many things that the iphone 'just does' HTC should do but 'just doesn't'.

If HTC could make the phones more reliable though, I'd recommend it to everyone. As it is, it looks like i may be switching to the iphone next time. 
Debbie, Director, bClear Communications - May 2, 2010
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