By next year, more than 50 percent of phones shipped by HTC will be based on the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Android operating system, increasing from just 30 percent this year. The growth will come at the cost of shipping Windows Mobile devices, according to digiTimes, which quotes unconfirmed sources.
If true, the reallocation of HTC’s resources will be a significant blow to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), which plans to release a major update to its mobile operating system next year. It’s also a bit surprising given HTC’s long-standing history with Microsoft. In February, we learned just how great of a partner HTC is to Microsoft when the two companies let slip that HTC was responsible for manufacturing 80 percent of all the 50 million Windows Mobile phones sold to date.
If HTC is having a change of heart, it won’t be the first. Already, Motorola (NYSE: MOT) has picked Android as its dominant smartphone platform, and Palm’s commitment to the operating system is unclear given the development of its own operating system. But if Microsoft can’t rely on HTC going forward, who is its likely partner? The most obvious answer is LG (SEO: 066570), which signed an enhanced partnership agreement with Microsoft, committing to developing 50 new Windows Mobile phones by the end of 2012. Given LG’s stellar performance in the second quarter, reported today, that could work out well for Microsoft.
But still, Microsoft’s previous partnerships with other handset makers — other than HTC — never resulted in many sales. After all, if HTC was responsible for 80 percent of Windows Mobile phones, that means Microsoft’s 49 other OEM partners, including Palm (NSDQ: PALM), Motorola and Samsung, sold a total of 10 million phones.