HTC is the world’s fourth largest smartphone company. It ships 80% of all Windows Mobile and probably a similar proportion of Android devices. Like Microsoft in 2003, Google turned to HTC for its first smartphone, the G1 and its latest, the co-branded Nexus One. The company shipped a total of 11.7 million mobile phones in 2009.
It would appear that HTC is very well positioned in what amounts to be the best industry in technology.
However, not all is well. A few days ago HTC issued revenue guidance below analyst estimates and its stock price is at 2005 levels, 70% off its peak (see graph–source: Google finance).
Part of this could be explained by its continuing reliance on Windows Mobile which is fading fast, but also it’s because, as management acknowledged, there is significant price pressure.
HTC prides itself with having a “premier” product with typically high-end feature sets and positioning. HTC invested in its own UI to differentiate its products and has mounted a branding campaign to move away from being a white-label ODM.
It seems all for nought. The rules of the smartphone market do not favor modular component players. As HTC does not front its own OS, it still struggles to stand out in the eyes of the consumer.
Looking at the list of top 3 vendors: Nokia, RIM and Apple, we see hardware companies that field an integrated OS/service bundle.
It’s hard to compete against this.
Windows Mobile 7: we so dropped the ball in our early phone OS presence that now it seems like it’s a losing battle to have a dog in this fight. But WinMo7 is out there. To me, I can imagine this becoming like the Zune HD: well praised and all, but not making a dent in the market because everyone has already moved on to the iPhone platform.
David Worthington interviews Brandon Watson, “director of product management in the developer platform at Microsoft”:
Watson claimed that many developers of applications for the iPhone OS–which the iPad uses–are not making money. Developing applications for the iPhone and iPad is expensive, he said, because iPhone OS uses the Objective-C language rather than Microsoft’s more pervasive .NET platform. And Apple’s control over the platform has alienated some people that make software for its products, he said.
Now if we can get the Grand Poobah of Ovi to chime in, we’ll be all set.
One observer has posted that WMM (Microsoft’s answer to iTunes App Store) has 520 apps in it now. The store launched in Nov 1 with 281 apps. That means there will be about 300 apps added in the first two months. The growth rate is therefore about 150/mo.
This has to be the slowest growing app store among all the contenders, though Palm may also be similar.
By way of comparison, iTunes App Store is growing at about 10k apps/mo. with Android about 3 to 5k/mo.
How does this make sense coming from the company that is known for “developers, developers, developers” and is the largest software company in the world?
This is active users in the US only.
iPhone now tops WinMo and is second only to RIM. The only line that is going down is the dumbphone category which lost 10 million users.
Those users were mostly switched to RIM and Apple. RIM gained about 4.3 million users and Apple gained about 3.5 million.
Android user base still lowest of all platforms and increased by about 0.6 million. They are likely to beat Palm however next few quarters. At this rate however it’s very hard to see an installed base that is going to challenge Apple for a long time.
Palm gained 0.44 million. Symbian gained 0.41 million. WinMo gained 0.3 million.
With a 1.4 multiplier for iPod Touch, the platform would have 12.5 million users, pretty near RIM’s base. We might see that tipping over next quarter.
Remember when I laid out the timeline for Nokia’s response to the iPhone? Still checking off the milestones: http://www.thestreet.com/_yahoo/story/10636833/1/nokia-outlook-another-year-in-limbo.html?cm_ven=YAHOO&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA
Let’s also do some version arithmetic:
Nokia is already on the 5th version of Maemo, a platform which by any measure is non-functional but already 5 years in the making. After this investment, only one product is shipping and it’s something of a science experiment–a pre-beta product. Nokia is also on the 9th version of Symbian, a functional but outdated platform stuck in the 90s. Promising big things in the 10th version to be re-branded Symbian ^2–I guess double digit version numbers are not confidence inspiring.
Microsoft meanwhile is working hard on the 7th major version of Windows Mobile. World waiting with bated breath.