What HTC was doing was networking on a global scale. It was greasing the wheels and biding its time before making its own branded assault on the world. It also never forgot the second key rule in smartphone manufacturing: innovation.
HTC has a mass of technology firsts: the first Microsoft Pocket PC (2000), the first Microsoft powered smartphone (2002), the first Microsoft 3G phone (2005), the first tri-band UMTS 3G device using Windows Mobile (2005), the first Tri-band UMTS PDA and many more. It kept pushing the envelope too with ever thinner handsets, ever larger touchscreens and tight pricing.
Then when Google released Android, HTC saw its chance.
In late 2008 it made the T-Mobile G1, the world's first Android smartphone and for the first time the name 'HTC' started to appear (even in brackets) on a regular basis. The company was making sure everyone knew who was behind it. This was a gamble. HTC had a rock solid relationship with Microsoft, but Windows Mobile was going nowhere and an earlier attempt to launch its own HTC branded Windows Mobile smartphones in mid-2006 had fallen flat. By contrast Android was open source and it gave HTC the licence to truly push boundaries on a platform which looked destined for great things.
In mid-2009 the warning shots came with the HTC Magic and just four months later HTC unveiled the Hero, the first truly credible touchscreen-based alternative to iPhone. It may have appeared as the 'G2 Touch' on T-Mobile, but everywhere else the HTC name was resplendent. It attacked both consumer and business sectors. It became the company's first handset to feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, it was the first phone after the iPhone to offer multi-touch and it sported a capacitive touchscreen. What's more it was the debut for 'Sense', HTC's iOS-rivalling skin which polished the rough edges from Android and drew upon all its years of experience trying to beautify Windows Mobile. The Hero was universally praised and those carrier relations saw it sold everywhere and for free on most midrange contracts.
HTC had the limelight and from here it never let up. Sense became the defacto interface on all its handsets.
Windows Mobile's fall from grace meant Microsoft had no choice but to accept HTC's decision to diversify so that contract was never lost. HTC followed up the Hero with the Desire and Legend in January 2010 which received even greater praise and became best sellers. More than a year on they still are. Suddenly a company so long in the shadows was revelling in its clever marketing slogan "quietly brilliant" and living up to it with the Desire HD and Incredible S. New models continue to fly out for every form factor and every budget. It also continues to capitalise on those carrier relations quickly customising models for local markets like the LTE ready Evo 4G.
The market responded. Stocks skyrocket and HTC looks unstoppable. But is it?