What makes him powerful: HTC CEO Peter Chou is intent upon making HTC a leader, and not a fast follower. The company built the first Android smartphone, the G1, and Chou has continued to make HTC a smartphone leader, even if it doesn't have the scale of competitors such as Samsung. Chou has also focused on differentiating HTC this year via software and services.
In an interview last fall with FierceWireless, Chou announced that HTC would deliver an LTE smartphone, and the device wound up being Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) first LTE smartphone, the HTC ThunderBolt, which quickly became a hit. In addition to being on the bleeding edge of hardware design, Chou pushed HTC to new areas this year, including a $48.6 million investment in content delivery platform provider Saffron Digital, which powers HTC's Watch multimedia service.
HTC also made a strategic investment in cloud gaming player OnLive and bought S3 Graphics for $300 million.
Some deals have made more sense than others--HTC's purchase of mobile applications and web services firm Dashwire fits well with HTC's push into the cloud. But the company's $300 million purchase of a 51 percent stake in Beats Electronics, the headphone manufacturer founded by hip-hop icon Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine, doesn't seem like a natural fit.
Above all though, Chou has pushed HTC to become a differentiated company, one that can deliver solid hardware but also has software and services.
Chou also has morphed HTC into a tablet manufacturer with its Flyer tablet with a stylus that allows for actual note-taking and offers a unique value proposition.
Although AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) high-priced HTC Jetstream tablet with its $600 price tag won't win HTC a lot of market share, the company appears committed to the tablet market.
Overall, Chou has worked to keep HTC at the forefront of its game. And so far it seems to be working. In the third quarter, the company's revenue clocked in at $4.53 billion, up 79 percent from the year-ago period, and HTC shipped 13.2 million smartphones, up 93 percent from the year-ago quarter. --Phil