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How HTC Got It Right - Challenges On the Horizon

Despite this week's incredible market capitalisation, there are signs of more testing times ahead for Taiwan's golden boy.

It may have been conveniently overshadowed by Nokia's announcement to adopt Windows Phone, but at Mobile World Congress this year HTC was the only major Android handset maker not to debut a phone featuring a dual core processor. We have argued about the problem with multi-core mobiles, but the fact remains it is strange not to see HTC on the cutting edge of every technological advancement. Likewise it is late to the tablet game and - while slick - the Flyer is the only 2011 tablet shipping from a major Android partner to be released with Android 2.3. It is also single core. Will these shortcomings hurt HTC? Probably not in the short term, but they are concerning.
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Equally concerning is Google. Android may have given HTC the platform to fully express itself, but Google is known to be upset about fragmentation and is looking to put stricter controls on what handset makers can and cannot change. HTC has built a strong reputation around Sense, but Google has the power to kill it and reduce HTC to once again fighting on pure hardware terms. A battle where bigger companies like Samsung and LG would have the edge.

HTC also has to be careful about a company many describe as 'the new HTC'. Ironically ZTE is older than HTC (it was founded in 1985), but it was a big winner at Mobile World Congress in February and the Chinese company grew faster than every smartphone maker, including Apple, last year.
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Like HTC, ZTE has forged the same strong carrier links through years of handset rebranding, but it is now pushing a different angle: feature packed low cost smartphones at criminally low prices. The £90 Blade is a perfect example of this and the upcoming 4.3in Skate looks even more dangerous. With the backing of the Chinese government and an unparalleled cheap workforce no phone manufacturer is safe.

Last year we asked What's Going Wrong At Nokia? and earlier this week we posed Is RIM the Next Nokia? Both companies had once enjoyed stunning success. Right now though the plaudits belong to HTC. It is feted by journalists, carriers and consumers alike and this praise is well earned. But technology never stops moving and the challenges never stop coming. The story of HTC has been remarkable, but it has a long way to go. We'll conclude this is 'How HTC Got It Right... so far'.

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