Position: Cofounder and CEO, HTC
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
When Peter Chou jumped ship from Digital Equipment Corporation to cofound High-Tech Computer Corporation in 1997, he was making a bet that the PC would eventually take a back seat to PDAs and mobile phones. “I thought that small handheld devices would play an integral role and was very fascinated with this idea,” Chou said when asked about HTC’s early days. “If we could integrate with people’s information—anywhere, anytime—there would be a strong market for that kind of device.”
Turns out Chou was right, but for a long time HTC was known only as a behind-the-scenes player that made handhelds for other companies such as Compaq, Palm, and T-Mobile.
Under Peter Chou’s leadership as CEO during the past four years, HTC has stepped out of the shadow of other tech giants to become one of the preeminent smart phone brands. The HTC Touch, for example, has sold more than 2 million units since its launch last year.
The secret to that device’s success mirrors that of many others Chou and his team of talented engineers have brought to market: the ability to continually enhance software as well as hardware design. “The Windows Mobile platform has a lot of good stuff inside, but it is very techy and not intuitive,” Chou said. “So HTC decided to innovate on the user experience.”
Chou’s next big challenge? Expand the appeal of smart phones to a much wider audience, which HTC hopes to do with its first smart phone based on Google’s Android platform, due by the end of the year. “We think the mobile Internet experience is horrible now in devices, and we want to innovate in this area,” he said. “We just want to expand our product category.”
Did You Know: Chou considers HTC’s first major milestone to be Compaq’s order for more than 100,000 units of the Compaq iPaq. Before that the company was moving about 20,000 units per month.