Year Of The Rabbit: Spotlight On HTC

To celebrate Chinese New Year, we're shining the spotlight on some of our favourite Chinese and Taiwanese technology companies. Today, we're looking at one of the key companies behind the smartphone revolution, HTC.

It's hard to believe that just 15 years ago, HTC didn't exist. Even harder to believe is that just four years ago, the name meant little to anyone outside of the mobile industry, and certainly wasn't considered as a brand to rival the likes of Apple, Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericsson. The way the company has grown from small Taiwanese startup to international powerhouse is a testament to the minds behind it.

Started in 1997 by Chairwoman Cher Wang, Director of the Board HT Cho and CEO Peter Chou, the company began as an OEM for laptops, but quickly saw the opportunity to move into the new and exciting world of touchscreen handheld devices. In 2000, they created the world's first Pocket PC for Microsoft, although few people would have known it at the time, as it wasn't released under the HTC brand name. In fact, in the 10 years that HTC operated as an OEM, they managed to create a long list of 'firsts' for the mobile industry thanks to their close ties with Microsoft, including the first Microsoft powered Smartphone, the first 2.8-inch TFT touchscreen LCD display, the first 3G Windows smartphone, and the first WinMo 5.0 smartphone.

But it was back in 2007 that things really started to look up for the Taiwanese company. HTC celebrated their 10th Birthday by opening a brand new factory, and were transitioning from OEM to consumer brand. Rumours at the time were abundant about a Google-branded mobile operating system, and when they actually announced Android in November of 2007, HTC was there at the launch as one of the founding partners.

Since that day just over three years ago, HTC had led the way for smartphone hardware. They've utilised their partnerships with software companies to continue to release impressive devices, customised with HTC's custom Sense UI. The Nexus One launch last year was the first time any smartphone truly managed to compete with Apple in terms of usability, speed and functionality, and the company has since improved their releases, starting with the impressive HTC Desire.

Last year, Fast Company ranked HTC as the 31st most innovative company in the world. But given the fact that many of their products have managed to completely change the way we perceive ourselves through our devices, we think they should have ranked even higher. With 2011 set to be the year the tablet truly takes off, we fully expect HTC to continue to pave the way for their competitors to follow.

[Year of the Rabbit]