HTC profits take a dive in a tough market

STRINGER/TAIWAN/REUTERS - A man poses with a replica of the HTC smartphone inside a mobile phone shop in Taipei in this April 6, 2012 file photograph.

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC, once nearly synonymous with Google’s Android operating system, reported Monday that its profits had dropped 79 percent since the same period last year.

The drop comes after HTC made a decision to shift away from lower-end cell phones and focus its effort on the premium market. Its efforts since then — particularly the HTC One X, One S and One V — have been solid, but have not sold particularly well.

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One big reason for that, of course, is that Apple and Samsung are continuing to battle it out in the smartphone world. Together, the companies comprise over 50 percent of the U.S. and global smartphone market, according to the latest figures from NPD and Gartner.

No other smartphone maker — RIM, Nokia or HTC, for example — has a smartphone share anywhere near the same size as the leading two companies.

As it’s moved away from making cheaper Android smartphones, HTC also has been making a push for the Windows Phone market. It’s set to release the 8X and 8S in the coming months, two more big phones for Microsoft’s operating platform.

But the Windows mobile phone operating system itself will have a tough market to crack if it truly wants to compete against Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. HTC will again be simply one of a crowd, and a weaker crowd at that.

According to the Wall Street Journal, to deal with the losses in the United States, HTC is beginning to pivot it focus outside of the country to Asia and other emerging markets where smartphone competition is just now starting to intensify.

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