Despite its distant fourth place position among smartphone platforms, Windows Phone contributes significantly to HTC's top line.
HTC has been a partner with Microsoft for years. Its smartphones were among the best of those running Windows Mobile. It stuck with Microsoft through the transition to Windows Phone 7, and now that partnership is starting to pay off, again.
Windows Phone 7.5 is currently rolling out worldwide; at the Singapore launch, Melvin Chua, who manages HTC's business there, sounded pumped up about the updated platform. He said at the launch event "we believe that Windows Phone 7 will eventually be better than other platforms and will give Android a run for its money."
That is serious praise from a company that has made Android-powered hits such as the HTC Evo, HTC Desire, and HTC Incredible. HTC is currently so closely linked with Android, it claims to be the second biggest developer for the platform, behind Google.
We still have yet to see Windows Phone take significant share. Microsoft is betting that the just-launched Mango update will begin to turn the tide on that. Earlier this year Pyramid Research claimed that Windows Phone would be the market leader by 2015. While I am not convinced the platform will lead by then, I do think that it will be a significant player, eclipsing BlackBerry and probably iOS as well.
With over 30,000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, it's clear developers have taken notice. That, combined with the Mango update and the imminent launch of Nokia's Windows-powered phones, is a lot of momentum for the platform. If those factors don't make the platform take off, nothing will.
Android is another story. The platform has its share of issues, like fragmentation and a seemingly unending line of patent lawsuits, but you can't argue with its success among consumers. While a lot can change in four years, I don't see Google letting the platform get stale, something that happened to former market leaders PalmOS and Windows Mobile. I think that lesson has been learned. Well, RIM is still learning it, and BlackBerry's declining share shows it.
Either way, HTC is poised to reap big benefits, as are Samsung, LG, and other manufacturers that build phones for both platforms. It will be interesting to see where Windows Phone falls in the market reports for the fourth quarter. I'll also be interested to see HTC's numbers and see if that 30% for Windows Phone's revenue grows.
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