Nexus One maker sees potential in Windows Mobile 7

High Tech Computer (HTC), the world's largest maker of smartphones running Google's Android mobile OS and Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS, believes the Nexus One will raise its global profile this year while the launch of Windows Mobile 7 will lead to the development of more apps for Microsoft phones.

The Taiwanese smartphone maker walks a tightrope in its relationship with two of the biggest technology companies in the world, Microsoft and Google, due to its aggressive moves to support multiple operating systems.

"We continue to believe both Windows Mobile and Android offer unique experiences to different consumer segments in their respective ecosystems," HTC said Tuesday in a presentation of its fourth quarter earnings.

The company's most recent success was to work with Google on the Nexus One. Google announced the smartphone early this month, the first Google branded handset and the first it will sell itself as well as in partnership with mobile service providers, such as T-Mobile in the U.S. and Vodafone in Europe.

"Our partnership with Google on the Nexus One shows our strength in innovation. It's very good for our brand," said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, in a conference call Tuesday.

HTC also sees the new handset as a major boost for Android-based smartphones in general, a major product category for HTC. The company shipped a total of 11.7 million mobile phones in 2009, and while it does not break down which OS went into those handsets, the company names Windows Mobile and Android as the two largest.

In the wider smartphone market, Nokia's Symbian OS led the smartphone OS pack last year, shipping in 75.8 million devices, according to market researcher IDC. The BlackBerry OS shipped on 34 million devices, while Apple's Mac OS X shipped in just over 25 million iPhones. Around 18.3 million Windows Mobile-based handsets shipped in 2009, trailed by Android at 6 million.

Shipments of HTC-branded smartphones will rise 30 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, said HTC's Chou. The first quarter last year was the weakest quarter of the year for HTC, mainly due to the global recession.

"We are confident we can continue to create value and maintain our leadership position on the Android platform," HTC said in materials prepared for its fourth quarter conference Tuesday, adding that it aims to increase its Android market share among global operators via the Nexus One and its own innovations.

HTC also makes smartphones that run China Mobile's OPhone platform, and it recently added Qualcomm's Brew MP OS to the list of OSs it works with, in the HTC Smart.

The Brew MP is a new area for HTC, as is developing more smartphones for China's home grown TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) 3G mobile networks.

Brew MP is targeted at entry level smartphone users, HTC said, where bargain prices are important. The low pricing allowed by Brew MP will not cannibalize Android or Windows Mobile phone sales, the company said, because the target markets are different.

"We expect Brew MP to create additional market opportunities rather than overlap," HTC said.

The coming year will see HTC invest more in its China operations, but the company does not expect revenue from China to increase significantly in the near term. The company will broaden its offerings of smartphones for China and work more closely with all three major carriers to develop products to meet their needs.

"We maintain our long term bullish tone on China smart phone growth potential," HTC said, adding that China will likely become a big revenue contributor in the next couple of years.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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