Android Pioneer HTC Posts Lowest Profit in 6 Years

Paul Lilly

HTC continues to struggle to find a way to flip the kind of profits it did during the company's heyday, back when it was moving handsets like gangbusters and practically had a license to print money. But the times, they are a-changin' and the HTC of old is having trouble competing in this new landscape dominated by Apple and Samsung, the latter of which has picked up the Android torch that HTC helped ignite. Ginormous profit dips are the norm for HTC these days, which today posted a record 79 percent drop in quarterly profit.

The once spunky handset maker reported that its third-quarter net profit was 3.9 billion New Taiwan dollars, a nice sounding number until you convert it to American currency, which works out to $133 million. Still a nice chunk of change, only profits are headed in the wrong direction. A year earlier, HTC's profits totaled NT$18.64 billion, or about US$636.28 million.

HTC once ranked as the biggest Android smartphone player, but has since been shoved aside by Samsung, which jumped ahead of HTC in the U.S. in 2011. Samsung's flagship Galaxy S III device is one of the most popular smartphones in the world and a large reason why the company expects to post a record profit in the third quarter.

At the Mobile World Congress earlier this year, HTC revealed a new smartphone strategy . Rather than continue to take a shotgun approach to the Android ecosystem, HTC decided to focus its efforts on a single product line, the HTC One. HTC's intention was (and remains) to put all its efforts into building a handful of really good devices rather than bombard the market with dozens with mediocre handsets. It's too early to call that strategy a failure, and it will be interesting to see how the company's upcoming Windows Phone 8X and 8X devices fare when they debut in November.

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