HTC will face squeeze from Android, Windows: analysts


TAIPEI — Taiwan’s HTC Corp. is facing the squeeze in the Android and Windows camps as Nokia Oyj has won more ground in the Windows Phones market and Samsung is outperforming the Taiwanese company in the Android sector, according to U.S.-based research firm Strategy Analytics. Global smartphones using Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system grew 36 percent sequentially to reach 2.7 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, Strategy Analytics said in a report recently.

Nokia, whose global Windows Phone shipments hit 0.9 million units in the period, overtook HTC and other vendors to become the world’s largest Windows Phone maker with 33 percent market share, the report said.

“Nokia’s Microsoft smartphone growth during the quarter was achieved partly by capturing market share from HTC,” said Tom Kang, director at Strategy Analytics.

“This is a challenging development for HTC because it is also losing ground to Samsung in the Android segment,” he added.

“HTC is now at risk of being caught in a pincer movement between the giants of Samsung in Android and Nokia in Microsoft, and HTC must move with urgency to address the problem,” Kang said.

In February 2011, Nokia and Microsoft announced plans to form a broad strategic partnership that would use their complementary strengths and expertise to create a new global mobile ecosystem.

The report added that Nokia’s growth can be attributed to an expanded portfolio of Windows Phone 7 models such as the Lumia 800, an increased retail presence and highly visible marketing campaigns across several European and Asian countries.

Further, Nokia announced the Lumia 610 on Monday at the Mobile World Congress tech fair in Spain, its first Windows Phone aimed at the mass market.

“Overall, the 610 looks like an attractive package for the mid-market and prepaid customers,” Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum, commented following the product launch.

“The combination of Nokia, Microsoft, an aggressively marketed mid-range Windows Phone device, and an appealing array of Nokia developed applications looks strong on paper,” Cripps said.

“However, should the offering fail to kick start demand, both companies’ hopes for renewed relevance in the smartphone market will be seriously dented,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Samsung was the largest LTE (long-term evolution)-enabled Android phone maker in the fourth quarter of 2011, selling 1.7 million units and taking 41 percent market share, according to Strategy Analytics. LG Electronics Inc. ranked the second with 800,000 units sold and a market share of 20 percent, exceeding HTC’s 700,000 units and 17 percent market share.

For the full year of 2011, Samsung remained the top LTE Android phone maker with sales of 2.6 million units, followed by HTC with 2 million units and LG with 1.1 million units. HTC has admitted to investors on Feb. 6 that sales of its LTE phones in the United States missed its expectation in the October-December quarter of last year due to less attractive form factors, such as a thicker body and shorter battery life.

The company said it expects to build a new wave of momentum for LTE phones in 2012 as such products gain more popularity in the U.S. and their functionality and design improve.