Smartphone Smackdown: Who Will Rule the Sector?

The biggest names in the mobile handheld device arena look to outdo each other for smartphone supremacy.
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(Smartphone Poll article updated with new information on the HP $1.2 billion buyout of Palm.)

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

Companies such as

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

,

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

,

Research in Motion

(RIMM)

and

Motorola

(MOT)

have been engaged in a ruthless battle of one-upsmanship when it comes to impressing the masses by matching the steadily growing demand with new and improved models whose capabilities only increase.

An example of just how cutthroat the market can be arrived on Thursday when

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

announced

it was pulling the plug on its latest smartphone, the Kin

.

Debut sales were weak

and the so-called feature phone couldn't stand up the to the competition.

The companies that remain in the battle for supremacy will do what it takes to get ahead, while fending off new threats from another major company that is proving itself brave enough to enter the market late in the game.

Which one of those companies is poised to win the war? We'll pose that poll question on the next page. In the meantime, here's a primer...

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

came out with its first iPhone in 2007, generating buzz around its unique combination of touchscreen, iPod functionality and email client capability. Apple recently came out with its newest edition, the iPhone 4.

Thousands of people across the country stood in line for hours waiting to get their hands on the $400 device, and within three days of its launch on June 24, Apple announced that more than 1.7 million iPhones had been sold. The

iPhone 4 is being touted by some as the best iPhone yet

, with groundbreaking features including free video chatting over WiFi.

Strictly offered on the

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

network, rumors are circulating that

the iPhone could soon find its way to the Verizon network

. If this happens, it will expand Apple's reach to

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

customers, and broaden its smartphone empire.

As the other major players scramble to come up with better features for their next models, Apple can enjoy the glory of being on top of the smartphone sector. For now.

Google's

(GOOG) - Get Report

Nexus is a power player itself. The phone's hardware is made by

HTC

and the software is

Google's Android

. Released in January 2010, the Nexus was the

first Google-branded Android smartphone

.

>>Today's Outrage: Cell-Phone Radiation

On Monday, Nexus One users received the Android 2.2 software update, code-named Froyo, on their phones. The

update offers new features

, allowing users to make their handset a portable hotspot, and allowing

Adobe

(ADBE) - Get Report

Flash to work within the phone's browser.

Research in Motion

(RIMM)

was a major innovator in the smartphone market with its BlackBerry, referred to, back in the day, as a "crackberry" for its addictive nature. The first Blackberry was released in 2004, three years before the iPhone.

At first, the full QWERTY keyboard was one of the

phone's major selling points

, but the iPhone's touchscreen capability forced BlackBerry to follow suit. In November 2008 RIM introduced the Blackberry Storm, one of the twenty models it has introduced to the market.

The company has traditionally done well in the smartphone sector. However, last Thursday it announced its

new subscribers were less than analysts expected

and

RIMM stock dropped 10% the following day

. It seems that consumers are finding a way to kick the crackberry habit, and are perhaps turning to the iPhone for a new fix.

The bedrock of

Motorola's

(MOT)

smartphone offerings has been the Motorola Droid. The original Droid was released in October 2009, and the latest edition, the Droid X, will be available beginning July 15th.

The Droid X will run Google's Android 2.2 software and be able to support Adobe Flash Player. Customers will be able to subscribe to 3G mobile hotspot service for $20 per month, turning the phone into a wireless modem for up to five compatible Wi-Fi devices.

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

, for its part, announced on Thursday the completion of its $1.2 billion buyout of

Palm

(PALM)

at $5.70 per share. The deal has united the world's largest computer maker with the webOS platform smartphone innovator. With its global scale and financial strength, HP might be a game changer. It plans to break into the smartphone market, and produce a smartphone that will be able to stand up to Research In Motion's Blackberry and Apple's iPhone.

Clearly, the smartphone industry is rapidly changing, as big companies team up to create new and improved versions of past successes. Each phone that is released claims its superiority to the ones that preceded it.

Now we want to know: Which mobile phone matchup has the best potential to rule the Smartphone market? Take our poll below to see what

TheStreet

thinks -- and if you have a write-in please leave a comment to make your case.