Quiet and brilliant, Taiwan's HTC is smartphone star

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has risen to global prominence by transforming itself from a contract maker into a viable brand, one of the toughest feats in the fiercely competitive hi-tech industry.

"Quietly Brilliant" is the motto adorning HTC's advertisements - and quietly, brilliantly it has managed to grow and grow, until recently it stunned the industry by becoming as big as Nokia.

"Today HTC is synonymous with smartphones," said Wang Ying-Yu, a research manager at Industrial Technology Research Institute, a think-tank in the city of Hsinchu in northern Taiwan.

"It has been more successful than any other company in Taiwan at pulling off the difficult task of building a brand," he said.

HTC's market value is now around $33 billion, about the same level as Nokia and surpassing Blackberry maker Research In Motion's (RIM's) $28 billion, according to analysts.

HTC has also set several records in Taiwan, and was listed as the most profitable company last year, while co-founder and chairwoman Cher Wang is currently the island's richest person.

Like many Taiwanese firms, HTC started as a contract manufacturer for major foreign brands such as Microsoft and only began developing its own brand of handsets in 2006.

The theory sounds nice - learn the ropes, then launch your own product - but so far only a handful of elite Taiwan companies such as computer maker Acer have managed to get it right.

"Others who tried ended up hurting themselves and typically saw their shares fall by half," Wang said.

Not HTC. It is now the world's fifth largest smartphone maker by shipment after Nokia, Apple, RIM and Samsung, and it can challenge Apple's market share in Europe and Asia, analysts said.

Momentum is further boosted by first quarter results, which saw its unaudited net profit nearly triple from the same period last year to Tw$14.83 billion ($510 million) while revenue surged 174 percent to Tw$104.16 billion.

This year HTC boss Wang, the 52-year-old daughter of late industrialist Wang Yung-ching, was crowned Taiwan's richest person by Forbes magazine, which estimated the combined wealth of her and husband Chen Wen-chi at $6.8 billion.

"Cher Wang is more like a spiritual leader of the company. She has a good eye for talent and she supports and trusts her professional management team," Wang said.

Analysts said HTC's close partnership with telecom operators and Google has given it an edge in the business. HTC was the first to make devices powered by Android, which is now adopted by LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony.

"HTC is in time for the rise of smartphones and it is riding the boom of Google's Android," said Luke Lin, an analyst at Taiwan's IT journal Digitimes.

Android is the most popular operating system for mobile devices, and technology research firm Gartner expects it to have 38.5 percent of the market by the end of 2011, ahead of the 19.4 percent for iOS for Apple's iPhone.

"It is going to be even better for HTC this year although it faces growing challenges for market share," said Lin. He estimated shipments to almost double from last year to about 50 to 55 million units.

"This year will see... these same (Android) vendors broaden and deepen their portfolios to reach more customers, particularly first-time smartphone users," said Ramon Llamas, a researcher at International Data Corp.

The company has also jumped onto the tablet bandwagon with its first tablet, Flyer, due to go on sale in the second quarter, although analysts said it was too early to say how it could contribute to the bottom line.

"We view this more as a product to test the market. We tend to believe tablets may not be a near-term value driver for HTC," said a recent Morgan Stanley report. It forecast fewer than two million shipped in 2011.

Underscoring the intense rivalry between smartphone makers is an ongoing dispute between HTC and Apple, which have accused each other of patent infringement and appealed to the US International Trade Commission to bar the other's products.

"An unfavourable ruling will certainly impact its (HTC's) operations," said Lin of Digitimes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Java Developer

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client are a successful software hous...

    MS Dynamics NAV/Navision Developer

    £45000 - £53000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: **MS DYNAMICS N...

    SAP Data Migration Consultant (LSMW)

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Purpose of Role: The SAP Data Migration ...

    OIL & GAS INDUSTRY - SOLUTION ARCHITECT

    Negotiable: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a leader in the Oil & Gas ...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game