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2009 Wrap-Up. 2010 Predictions, Part IV.

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27th December 2009

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 HTC logo HTC

 HTC Hero Possibly the most innovative smartphone maker of 2009, HTC expanded from their Windows-only policy to embrace the world of Android. To this end, the HTC Hero is certainly one of the most impressive Android devices on the market, but Windows fans also have the HTC HD2 which is even more impressive when it comes to raw hardware specification.

HTC do more than produce hardware, they also add their own unique software and user interface to the handsets, something that is of a particular benefit to Windows Mobile devices.

Although HTC are still a relatively small company, it's hard to see where they can go wrong with their current strategy of "bigger, better, faster, more". As ever, we think that HTC would make a juicy acquisition target if anybody has that sort of money at the moment.

 Windows Mobile Microsoft / Windows Mobile

 Windows Mobile 6.5 Although 2009 hasn't been exactly a disaster for Microsoft, they have been losing market share to Android and the Apple iPhone. Windows Mobile 6.5 gave the operating system a boost late in the year, but the long anticipated Windows Mobile 7 looks to be a long way off, due at the end of 2010.

This means that there's a big gap between the current stopgap version of Windows and the version that is meant to be truly competitive with the best that the opposition has to offer, and this will be an opportunity for rivals to permanently take share away from Microsoft.

There was bad news on the manufacturer front during 2009 - HTC switched some of its efforts to Android, although it remains a key partner for Microsoft. Motorola appears to have ditched Windows Mobile completely, and there are persistent rumours that Samsung may do the same.

Microsoft's achingly slow development cycles and inability to keep up with the opposition mean that it will continue to be under pressure in 2010 and beyond, although Microsoft are unlikely to give up this potentially important market.

 Android Google / Android

 Google The one to watch during 2010, Android still has a few rough edges but with version 2 now released (and version 2.1 in development) it is getting better all the time. One problem that Android has is a fragmented approach from vendors, manufacturers can't resist tinkering with the operating system and making it inconsistent.

We know that Google have their own smartphone up their sleeves, called the "Nexus One" which appears to have been manufactured by HTC. Whether or not this is aimed at Google staff and developers, or is aimed at general consumers is not yet known.

 Symbian Symbian

 Nokia N97 Mini The Symbian platform was spun off from Nokia in 2009 to the Symbian Foundation, and made open source. Theoretically, this looked like good news for Symbian.. but when Nokia showed off their first non-Symbian smartphone, the N900, then alarm bells started to ring. But are Nokia actually moving away from Symbian? It seems that perhaps they just want to use the operating system in more mass-market devices, so this could actually be good news.

More worryingly, longtime Symbian partners Sony Ericsson and Motorola seem to have stopped making Symbian-based handsets altogether, and there are strong rumours that Samsung will drop the operating system too. Apart from Nokia and FOMA of Japan, very few handsets use this platform.

There's life in Symbian yet, but smartphone makers are increasingly looking elsewhere and it is hard to see a way for Symbian to compete with the likes of Android, Maemo and the iPhone.

 Companies to watch in 2010 Other companies to watch in 2010

Israeli company Emblaze Mobile made a splash with the First Else, a powerful LiMo-based device with a unique interface and great potential. Our guess is that Emblaze is too small to be able to give this technology the push it needs.. as a result it looks like an interesting acquisition target. Toshiba scored modest success with the TG01 smartphone, but we suspect that this may be their last attempt to carve a niche in the European market, and they may follow the likes of fellow Japanese firms Sharp, Panasonic and NEC who no longer compete in Europe. INQ Mobile is a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, who also own the 3 network, but expect to see INQ break out into other markets with the likes of their Chat 3G handset. Acer, Garmin-Asus and ZTE are companies that have shown promise in 2009, and are likely to make more of an impact in 2010.

Finally..

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers and YouTube viewers, and we wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2010!

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