It seems like only yesterday that everyone and his (or indeed her) dog owned a Nokia, back in the halcyon days of the 3210. Times were simpler then, and we whiled away the hours playing Snake. As technology advanced, we were treated to luxuries such as colour screens, cameras and MMS. But with those advances came a lengthy period of uncertainty; users flirted with various manufacturers – Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG – but few handsets could match the 3210’s seemingly universal approval.
In 2007, Apple released the iPhone, and once again everyone appeared to have the same bloody phone. It was miles better than anything else, and anyone who chose not to buy one appeared either obstinate or idiotic. Or both. One by one, people abandoned their laughable non-iPhones and jumped on the Apple bandwagon (metaphorically steered by a grinning Steve Jobs, with the obligatory Apple logo emblazoned on the side).
When the iPhone 4 launched in June 2010, the average Joe would’ve traded his own mother to get his greasy hands on one. But simultaneously, the more educated mobile user began to question his or her loyalty to Apple. How far had the iPhone really come in three years? Multitasking? So what? A better camera? 5MP isn’t exactly groundbreaking. Then came Antennagate, coupled with a massive shortage of stock. Suddenly it wasn’t a case of when one should get the iPhone 4, but if. “What about these HTC guys? They’re supposed to be pretty good.” “Sorry, HT-who?”
While early mobile adopters paraded around with giant phones sporting ridiculous antennas, HTC was but a twinkle in the eyes of Cher Wang (Chairwoman) and Peter Chou (CEO and President). Founded in 1997, HTC immediately began to focus on handheld touch and wireless technology. Its first major release followed in 2000, seven years before the iPhone, with the touchscreen iPaq Pocket PC. HTC continued to focus on research and development, and racked up an impressive list of firsts.
- In 2002, it released the first Microsoft-powered smartphone – the HTC Canary.
- Seeing the potential in 3G, they developed the world’s first Windows 3G phone – the HTC Universal – in 2005.
- Three years later, HTC brought Android to the masses with the HTC Dream (or T-Mobile G1, as it was also known).
- In 2010, the US received its first 4G-capable phone in the HTC Evo 4G.
Indicative of its steady rise to success, HTC’s sales revenue doubled from 2004 to 2005. In 2010, Fast Company ranked HTC as the 31st most innovative company in the world. Today, HTC has dozens of handsets under its belt, offering a genuine alternative to the iPhone.
Although HTC currently manufactures phones using Windows and Android operating systems, it’s reportedly researching the possibility of developing its own OS. Now if only it would stop being ‘Quietly brilliant’ and shout from the hills, HTC could really give Apple a kick in the privates.
Incidentally, Apple and HTC aren’t exactly the best of friends. In March 2010, Apple filed a suit claiming that HTC had infringed on no less than 20 of its patents, pertaining to the iPhone’s software and hardware. HTC scoffed and launched a countersuit suggesting that Apple had in fact infringed on 5 of its patents. As if their relationship wasn’t strained enough, HTC then sought to ban Apple goods manufactured in Asia being imported to the US. Apple responded by upping the number of patent infringements to 22. Play nice, kids.
Three things you might not know about HTC:
- HTC stands for High Tech Computer (Corporation)
- HTC’s reputation for innovation is mirrored in the company's structure. A quarter of its employees work in research and development.
- Chairwoman Cher Wang is the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Taiwan, entrepreneur Wang Yung-ching. In 2008, Forbes placed him as the 178th richest person in the world.
If you’re still not entirely won over, check out this charming little video on YouTube, The Quietly Brilliant Story of HTC.