The mobile market is so competitive these days that you're invariably either moving forward or in trouble, and the difference doesn't tend to be a very big one either.
Take HTC, for example. The up-and-coming Android champion of 2010 is all of a sudden finding itself cast as a stagnating smartphone giant in need of some real innovation to kick-start the good times again. And judging by today's markets, not everyone is convinced it can do it.
HTC's rise to prominence largely mirrored that of Android's itself, mainly because most of the early successes for the Google OS were made by HTC.
But there's no question that Samsung is now the No 1 Android device maker in town, while Apple continues to advance rapidly with each new generation of iPhone and iPad.
We had our own doubts about HTC's future as far back as Mobile World Congress in February, where the Taiwanese firm only had the Facebook duo of the Salsa and ChaCha – which have proved to be the niche handsets many of us always thought they would – along with 'S' evolutions of established favourites such as the Wildfire and Desire to show off.
In other words, not enough. Especially when Samsung had the Galaxy S II breaking cover in the next hall.
HTC's shares are down 62% from their record high in April, a drop only beaten by RIM (though much of the damage to Nokia's share price happened earlier in the year).
HTC chief financial officer Winston Yung, however, believes HTC isn't in for the same kind of troubles. “I don't think it's so serious,” he told Reuters today. “We will focus on the product next year, better and more competitive. Other than new LTE phones for the US market, we have phones for the global market. We will launch some worldwide flagship products. We're confident in them.”
To be fair, much of the drop in HTC's share price comes simply from the readjustment of expectations that were simply too high, and it's worth noting that its expected smartphone shipments for 2012 stand at 45 million, which is still nearly double the 25 million of this year.
But with the good times not quite rolling like they once were, those few voices that have been grumbling for a long time now that HTC's handsets lack design innovation and identity are bound to be getting a lot louder now.
And with Nokia (cautiously) on an upward trajectory again, Sony about to take full control of Sony Ericsson and Google having bought out Motorola, competition in 2012 is going to be harder than ever.
Of course, from a consumer point of view that invariably means better devices at more competitive prices. So we're not too broken up to see a few of the industry's leading lights squirming a little uncomfortably in their chairs.