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4/7/2011
03:57 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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HTC Market Cap Surpasses Nokia

Android has helped HTC's market capitalization to climbed higher than the market cap of both RIM and Nokia.

Five or six years ago, most people had probably never heard of HTC. It rarely put its name, brand, or logo on its devices, and instead let the likes of Verizon Wireless or Sprint name the hardware under their own brands. Conversely, Nokia was the largest provider of mobile phones on the planet, and one of the top brands in the industry. Its global reach was unchallenged.

My, how times have changed.

HTC's market capitalization recently climbed to $33.88 billion, which is a smidge higher than Nokia's $33.8 billion valuation. Both companies overshadow RIM, which has a market cap of $28.8 billion. How did HTC, the tiny little company from Taiwan, beat these two world-reknowned mobile juggernauts?

In a word, Android.

In just two and a half years, Android has gone from zero to hero, commanding a huge 33% of the U.S. smartphone market -- ahead of iOS, RIM, Windows Phone 7, webOS, and Symbian. Android is only going to continue to grow. On Thursday, Gartner predicted that Android will make up 49% of the smartphone market by next year.

Part of the reason for Android's success is the easy-to-use, easy-to-customize platform that allows hardware makers, developers, carriers, and customers alike to get what they want from their phones. True, Android has its own set of problems, but at the end of the day, more than 300,000 people are buying Android handsets (many of them made by HTC) every single day.

Think of some of the biggest smartphone success stories over the course of the last year: HTC Incredible, HTC EVO 4G, HTC Thunderbolt. All of these handsets broke new ground, with new technologies (such as WiMax and LTE) encased in good-looking hardware.

Nokia's strategy has, for all intents and purposes, been the exact opposite of this. It has spent three years trying to cope with the influx of iOS and Android touch phones, and its best effort -- Symbian 3 -- fails miserably at competing. It's clunky and anti-user. Symbian has so completely failed against Apple and Google's offerings, that Nokia has been forced to drop it entirely and adopt competitor Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform.

Gartner and others predict that Windows Phone 7's place in the market will swell significantly over the coming years, but will it be enough to help Nokia recapture its former glory? Can it reverse its downward slide? Not before 2012, that's for sure. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said the company won't get its first WP7 smartphone to market until late 2011 or early 2012. By that time, HTC will have fielded its first 3-D-capable smartphones and tablets and who knows what else.

Nokia has a lot of work to do.


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