HTC's recovery push will be headlined by One X Android ICS smartphone, launching in May

A couple of high-profile smartphone earnings developments landed late yesterday and early today.

I. HTC Predicts Revenue Recovery in Q2

First, there was a bold prediction from struggling Taiwanese phonemaker HTC Corp. (TPE:2498). The company is currently reeling from an abysmal quarter which saw its profit cut in half from a year before, sending a meteoric rise to the top of the smartphone market to a grinding halt.  HTC predicts that it will pull in second quarter revenue of $105B TWD ($3.56B USD), a bullish estimate that's 3.5 percent above the analyst target of $101.46B TWD.

The company's ambitions will pin partially on its new flagship smartphone, the monstrous Android Ice Cream Sandwich, 1.5 GHz quad-core (Tegra 3), 4.7-inch 720p HTC One X, which will go head to head with Android leader Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KS:005930) Galaxy S II (and next-gen. Galaxy S 3).


The One X will launch first on AT&T Inc. (T) in the U.S. on May 8, and is rumored to be headed for Sprint Nextel Corp.'s (S) brand new LTE network, re-branded as the HTC EVO 4G LTE.  Pre-orders on Sprint are reportedly kicking off on May 7 -- a day before the launch at AT&T.

HTC has found itself in a financial slump similar to Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V), but the reasons behind that slump are a bit different.  Where as Nokia's recent woes have come from a painful operating system platform switch, HTC recent issues have largely come from being outshone on its platforms of choice.

Samsung has dominated Android sales, with its Galaxy phones heavily outselling HTC models globally.  While it's hard to pin HTC's sales problems on a single issue, the company's bloated Sense UI firmware and lagging design aesthetics are among the culprits.

Still, handsets like the impressive HTC Titan II LTE Windows Phone (Mango) and the HTC One X, which comes with a chic white frame, show HTC has the potential to maker star superphones.  Whether it can live up to its bold aspirations, though, remains to be seen.

II. ARM Continues Record Run

With tablet and smartphone sales growing at a frantic pace, there's a lot of winners (e.g. Samsung, Apple, Inc. (AAPL)) and a lot of losers (e.g. Research in Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM) and former Palm owner Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ)).

But to ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) it doesn't matter if it's a BlackBerry, an Android, or a Windows Phone -- every phone sold is more money in ARM's pocket.

ARM posted its latest quarter earnings, again blowing away past figures.  Here are some highlights:
  • Revenue: $209.4M USD (up 13 percent)
  • Profit: $97.8M USD (up 22 percent)
  • Taxes: 27.0 precent (down from 29.3 percent last year, but more than most tax-dodging corporations like Apple)
  • Chips: 1.9 billion shipped (1.1b smartphone/mobile computers; 0.8b embedded)
  • Graphics: 2 new Mali licensees
  • CPUs: 4 new licenses (1 real-time ARM-R; 3 microcontroller ARM-M)
ARM is a fascinating company, which we profiled not too long ago.  While Intel Corp. (INTC) remains the world's largest chipmaker -- as ARM does not physically produce silicon -- ARM is by far the world's largest chip designer.  The company was founded from a partnership by the UK's defunct Acorn Computer and Apple, with the aim of developing processors for mobile devices.

Gaining full independence following Acorn and Apple's divestments around the turn of the century, ARM saw early success in the hard drive microcontroller market and then quietly crept into the wide-open emerging mobile device market.  Today nearly every smartphone and tablet sold uses a licensed ARM design, cores that remain true to ARM's fundamental reduced instruction set computer (RISC) design philosophy and focus on power-efficiency.

ARM has grand ambitions for a push into the laptop space, giving x86-PC chipmaker Intel its first real architectural challenge in decades.  ARM is in good company -- its efforts are backed by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which is preparing a special ARM-friendly version of Windows 8.

ARM Cortex A15
ARM's 2012 will be highlighted by a Windows 8 laptop push. [Image Source: ARM Holdings]

If ARM can gain a foothold in the laptop space at Intel's expense it could be destined for an even more meteoric rise.

Sources: MSN Money, ARM Holdings, Android and Me

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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