How HTC Got It Right

April 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

I’ve been very critical of smartphone makers in recent times. Last year Nokia got it in the neck and last week I laid into RIM. Now it is time for credit where credit is due. Just how did HTC increase its share price 30x in two years…?

This is the topic for my TrustedReviews feature. As always, find a link to the full feature at the bottom of this sample.


How HTC Got It Right

On Wednesday HTC hit a remarkable milestone. Its market capitalisation surpassed Nokia. It had already surpassed RIM. Even more impressive was the vast majority of the rises occurred in just the last two years. So what is HTC getting so very right?

First things first. Let’s put these figures into context. Market capitalisation is not a literal valuation. For example in 2010 Nokia turned over €43.5bn and employs over 130,000 people. HTC turned over $9.57bn (€6.7bn) in 2010 and employs just over 5,500 people. Instead market capitalisation is share based. It looks at the share price multiplied by the shares outstanding. Run these numbers and HTC is currently worth $33.88bn, Nokia $32.84bn and RIM $28.5bn. What’s more HTC’s market cap is in excess of 30x its value five years ago. This poses two questions: 1. Why? and 2. Don’t you wish you bought shares?

The why can be answered economically. For all Nokia’s size its €43.5bn turnover made just €1.85bn in net income. By contrast HTC’s €6.7bn turnover produced €1.35bn in net income. Who would you say has the more efficient, more profitable and consequently more appealing business model to investors? On Friday HTC reported its Q1 2011 financial results. Net profit for the first three months of the year hit $511m, this traditionally slow time is almost triple HTC’s figures for the same period in 2010.


Don’t you wish you bought shares? In fairness you’re not daft if you were caught out. Despite its meteoric recent rise, HTC isn’t a new company, it was actually founded way back in 1997.


Windows Phone 7

March 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

The writing seemed to be on the wall for Windows Mobile. Ugly, unloved and hopelessly out of date compared to its more intuitive models, not many expected much from its successor. Microsoft surprised us all with Windows Phone 7 Series, a verbosely titled reboot of the entire series. Early praise flooded in, but since its unveiling at Mobile World Congress in January a number of worrying cracks in its glossy veneer are starting to appear. So here they are, exposed for you all.

The preamble: My cult and contentious reviews’ system. Designed as a time saver to highlight the potential deal breakers in a product before you commit to reading lengthy reviews on your favourites sites and/or magazines. For a more detailed description please read: THE RULES

Just the Bad Points Review: Windows Phone 7

  • No multi-tasking at launch (Microsoft confirms it could be added in future)
  • No expandable storage (Microsoft hardware guidelines forbid it)
  • No copy and paste at launch (yes, really!)
  • No Adobe Flash support at launch
  • No backwards compatibility with Windows Mobile (potentially a good point, long term)
  • Microsoft’s high minimum specifications for Series 7 handsets suggest there won’t be many affordable options from day one or design variants
  • Windows Marketplace (app store) begins from scratch thanks to incompatibilities
  • All 7 Series smartphones are likely to be large thanks to Microsoft’s high screen resolution minimum requirements
  • No proof Internet Explorer mobile edition can yet compete with Opera Mobile, Mobile Safari or even Mobile Firefox
  • Currently no Mac support to sync Series 7 handsets (unsurprising really)
  • Q4 release date still a long way off – where will the competition be? (A multi-tasking iPhone?)
  • Bing search, Bing Maps and Bing Video verses Google search, Google Maps and YouTube?
  • Unlike Android/iPhone firmware, the upgrade path for 7 Series uncertain. Free 8 Series upgrades? Don’t bet on it
  • Music and video syncing through Windows Media Player is a love it/hate it affair

Top 5 Gadget Recommendations

July 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Reprinted with permission from my original article featured on the TalkTalk official blog

Navigating the tech jungle can be hazardous at the best of times, but following a flood of summer releases just what are the most desirable gadgets now available on the market? I’ve come up with a Top 5 list designed to hit different product types and budgets, so let’s kick on…

MP3 Players

SanDisk Sansa ClipThis category may be slowly swallowed by ever more capable mobile phones but if you want a cheap and cheerful purchase you can’t do much better than the venerable SanDisk Sansa Clip. Apple may rule the roost with the iPod line but the Clip is everything the iPod shuffle wishes it could be. Unlike the shuffle it sports a screen, sequential playback, an FM radio and microphone recorder. Battery life is also 50 per cent better than the shuffle at 15 hours from a single charge and while tiny (29 grams) the Clip isn’t so small you’ll lose it down the back of the sofa. Perhaps best of all however is the price with an 8GB Clip costing just £39 and a 4GB Clip a mere £29. An iPod shuffle? £59 for 4GB. Ladies and gentlemen we know where most people’s money goes, but this is where you put the smart money.


Olympus Pen E-P1Ever wish you could have the quality of a professional DSLR digital camera combined with the small, lightweight convenience of a compact? The Olympus Pen E-P1 could just be the first camera to do it. Launched just last month, it employs ‘Micro Four Thirds technology’ to cut down on overall bulk without sacrificing image quality. Furthermore, just like a professional camera the lenses on the E-P1 can be swapped for different sizes and even a dedicated Flashgun can be fitted on top. The Pen E-P1 will also shoot High Definition video and features HDMI output so it can be plugged straight into a TV to view your latest masterpieces. It doesn’t come cheap with prices starting from £599.99, but right now there is nothing else like it.


Samsung NC10The laptop has long eaten away at sales of the desktop PC but it seems in these recession haunted times that the new ultra portable, low cost ‘netbook’ category is quickly devouring laptops. A flood of virtually indistinguishable models have landed thanks to Microsoft imposing ‘maximum specifications’ on manufacturers, but the best of these to date is the unassuming sub £300 Samsung NC10. It may not be the most beautiful, but the NC10 is superbly built, features a fantastic keyboard, bright screen and outstanding battery life (more than six hours on a single charge). The newer Samsung N120 will soon replace it, but with a £60 price premium for virtually no difference you’re best snapping up the NC10 while you still can.


FlipVideo UltraHDJust a few years ago High Definition video recording was only available in professional production equipment costing tens of thousands of pounds. How times change. Like the netbook market, budget camcorders have also exploded onto the scene over the last 12 months. The FlipVideo line is arguably the most successful and the launch of the Flip Video Ultra High Definition Camcorder this month brings High Definition recording into the palm of your hand for just £159. Operation is simply a matter of point and shoot, there’s two hours worth of recording courtesy of the 8GB of onboard storage and you can also take still shots. If you enjoy sharing content the UltraHD’s built in software can automatically upload it to YouTube, batteries are replaceable and there’s even an HDMI port so everything you record can be displayed straight from your device onto an HDTV. Goodbye expensive camcorders.




Mobile Phones

iPhone 3GSFinally, and perhaps predictably, we can’t have a gadget roundup without mentioning the new iPhone 3GS (available at Carphone Warehouse – Ed). It may have been more evolution than revolution but Apple’s third generation handset remains king of the hill thanks to a focus on craftsmanship in a sector too long dominated by specifications. If you can afford the steep tariffs proposed by O2 (a network believed to be coming to the end of its iPhone exclusivity) the 3GS is without doubt the best mobile phone money can buy. If you’re looking for a sneaky sixth recommendation and the iPhone 3GS proves a little too rich for your blood check out the HTC Magic on Vodafone. Built on top of Google’s exciting Android mobile phone operating system it may lack the glamour of the iPhone but Google doesn’t like to be second with anything and it remains a hugely impressive handset on a fast evolving platform. In fact this time next year it may just be Apple iPhones which are the poor man’s Google phone.



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HTC Magic Android Smartphone

May 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

The T-Mobile G1 has been left on its own as the sole Google Android handset for seven long months, but now it finally has some company and competition in form of the ‘Magic’. Like the G1, the Magic is made by Taiwanese manufacturing giant HTC but has been sold to different networks around the globe. On the surface, the HTC Magic is a far more sophisticated handset than the G1 and is an easy sell, so most importantly what’s not to like…

The preamble: My cult and contentious reviews’ system. Designed as a time saver to highlight the potential deal breakers in a product before you commit to reading lengthy reviews on your favourites sites and/or magazines. For a more detailed description please read: the Rules

HTC Magic Android Smartphone

HTC Magic Android Smartphone

Just the Bad Points Review: HTC Magic Android Smartphone

  • 3.2in capacitive touchscreen is large, but physically smaller than the HTC Touch HD & iPhone
  • The screen’s 320 x 480 resolution matches the iPhone but is less than some VGA (480 x 640) Windows Mobile smartphones
  • No physical Qwerty keyboard or number pad
  • 3.2 megapixel camera is mediocre and lacks autofocus
  • Native storage is minimal at 512MB though there is a microSD expansion slot
  • No multi-touch support exists in Android at present
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack means an adaptor must be used for third party earphones
  • No DivX/AVI video support
  • No support for lossless music
  • Android requires users to have a Gmail account (though enforced, in itself not a bad thing)

Windows Mobile 6.5 Screenshots

January 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Could Microsoft really be about to serve up something this 2006 as it’s next generation 2009 smartphone OS? Please Redmond, don’t undo all the good will you earned from Windows 7 so fast…

A face only a Ballmer could love?

A face only a Ballmer could love?

RIM BlackBerry Storm

January 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

RIM’s first entry into the ever expanding world of touchscreen devices was inevitable but first generation products are notoriously poor. Has the BlackBerry Storm fallen foul to this rule?

The preamble: My cult and contentious reviews’ system. Designed as a time saver to highlight the potential deal breakers in a product before you commit to reading lengthy reviews on your favourites sites and/or magazines. For a more detailed description please read: the Rules

RIM BlackBerry Storm Review – Just the Bad Points


BlackBerry Storm

  • No WiFi
  • Touchscreen display slides around under finger, not just depresses
  • Dust gets under the screen
  • Virtual Qwerty keyboard is a love it/hate it affair (I side with the latter)
  • 155g weight is heavier than iPhone 3G, Samsung Pixon and LG Renoir
  • Impossible to recommend to anyone without them trying it.
  • The ultimate Marmite smartphone.