What makes him powerful: In a few short years, Taiwan's HTC has transformed itself from an obscure, white-label handset maker into one of the world's leading smartphone vendors. According to ABI Research, HTC grew its shipments from 3 million in the second quarter of 2009 to a whopping 5.5 million in the second quarter of this year, clocking year-on-year growth of more than 80 percent--better than any other top-10 handset vendor in the second quarter. Further, according to research firm Gartner, HTC was the world's eighth largest global maker of handsets--smart or not--in the second quarter, commanding close to 2 percent of the global handset maker.
Peter Chou, who has been the CEO of HTC since 2005, has overseen much of the company's transformation. Under his guidance, HTC parlayed its strength in Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform into a leading position with Google's Android platform. The company, along with fellow Android promoter Motorola (NYSE:MOT), accounted for more than 50 percent of all the Android phones sold in the second quarter, according to ABI. And HTC is poised to renew its Microsoft partnership with the release later this year of phones running the software giant's new Windows Phone 7 platform.
As the company built out its Android play, Chou concurrently helped transition HTC from an ODM (building phones for other brands) into an OEM (building phones carrying the HTC brand). HTC's "Quietly Brilliant" ad campaign served as the flashpoint for its direct-to-consumer push and has helped build mindshare for the company.
HTC also had two certifiable hits in the United States this year--the Droid Incredible with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and the Evo with Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S).
Chou, who completed Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program in 2006, clearly understands the rollicking smartphone industry, and has positioned HTC to cash in on the rocketing growth in the market. --Mike