HTC out of court, out of luckTuesday 13 November 2012 11.38
Patent War observers will be happy to see the end of the Apple/HTC litigation
It also says that HTC is no longer a player in the consumer smartphone market.
As a trillion-dollar company with enough cash reserves to wipe out Ireland's national debt, Apple has had the wherewithal to pursue patent cases with a particular kind of venom, using protracted litigation to eat up competitors' potential research and marketing budgets. The longer and more complex the litigation the more it perceives its opponent as a threat. So far only Samsung has been able to stand up to the strategy and has won some big victories - most notably in the UK where Apple was forced to run print advertisements explaining how the Galaxy Tab and the iPad are entirely different offerings. Ironically, in trying to squash Samsung on so many fronts Apple has turned the South Korean company (and parts supplier to its own products) into a bona fide nemesis. Samsung plays in all the spaces Apple does (and a few more giving its Note 'phablet').
HTC's situation as the fifth largest smartphone manufacturer (and not a lot else) is far more delicate. Having vacillated on tablets - the Wildfire S was a bust but the Flyer is widely available - the company has seen its global smartphone market share drop steadily from a peak of over 10% to a mere 4%, according to analysts IDC. This contrasts with Apple's 15% and Samsung's 31.3% - figures are likely to shift even more as the Christmas period closes in and we know more about iPhone 5 sales. Even worse, the company's losses
What happened to HTC? The lack of an identifiable 'anti-iPhone' among a fragmented product range would be a good place to start. Remember the Dream, Hero, Wildfire, Sense? Probably not. How about a novel marketing campaign? No joy there either, there never was one. The solution, the HTC One series, has met with lukewarm sales, largely due to the superiority of the Samsung Galaxy S III. The approach is finally right but the product isn't compelling enough. The less said about the flipping of Beats Audio
It's not all bad news and a pivot towards the business
HTC didn't release bad products, just not fantastic ones. Apple will happily take the hit on licences but it's mostly 'go away money' and a slap in the face to one of Android's first boosters. The goal of crushing Android remains and won't be decided here, but you can imagine Tim Cook will derive at least some satisfaction from relegating HTC from boutique brand to fringe player. Who's next?
Niall Kitson is editor of TechCentral.ie