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The new kings of the mobile crowd

A few years ago, they were the best mobile phone maker you'd never heard of. Taiwan's HTC made hundreds of high-end smartphones, but they were never released under the HTC name, but under the names of partners. We're thinking of things like O2's XDA phones, Orange's SPVs, and of course Google's Nexus One. But in the last couple of years, HTC has stepped out of the shadows and begun releasing its own branded smartphones, with one operating system - Android - making up the bulk of its range. And it's done rather well, with devices such as the Wildfire and Desire selling by the bucketload.

And now it's getting the pay-off for all its hard work. HTC's market capitalisation - the total value of all the shares it has on sale - has increased by 33% this year, to $33.8 billion. It's now overtaken both BlackBerry makers RIM and a little phonemaker called Nokia in overall valuation.

Nokia's performance, incidentally, shows what can happen if you don't use the latest software: their market cap has shrunk 19%. Nokia eschewed the chance to 'go Android', but we'll see if their deal with Microsoft to use Windows Phone 7 works helps them get back on top.

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