HTC Preps Google Android Attack

Updated from 11:12 a.m. EDT

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC plans to launch three Google ( GOOG) Android phones in 2009, increasing the competition for Apple's ( AAPL) iconic iPhone.

CEO Peter Chou outlined HTC's smartphone roadmap Tuesday and also promised double-digit revenue growth in 2009, according to Reuters.

The firm, which launched its first Android phone, the G-1, with Deutsche Telekom's ( DT) T-Mobile last year, plans to launch another device in the second quarter, with two more coming later in the year.

The first of these is likely to be HTC's "Magic" device, which was announced last month at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain. Sold by U.K. phone giant Vodafone ( VOD), the HTC Magic is slated for a spring launch in five European countries.

Although Finnish tech giant Nokia ( NOK) remains the dominant smartphone player with about 40% share, Apple's iPhone continues to gain momentum, and Google is eager to repeat its desktop success in the broader wireless domain.

The search giant has already forced federal regulators to adopt open standards for holders of new wireless spectrum licenses, which in turn opened the door for a new generation of devices.

Despite the global spending slowdown, demand for smartphones remains relatively robust. Technology analyst firm Gartner reports that smartphone sales grew 3.7% year over year to 38.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Nokia's market share fell to 40.8% from 50.9%, according to Gartner, as Research In Motion's ( RIMM) share of the pie increased from 10.9% to a whopping 19.5%. Apple also doubled its smartphones sales from the previous fourth quarter, clinching 10.7% of the total market share.

HTC, however, is yet to carve out a substantive slice of the smartphone market, and accounted for just 4.3% of total fourth-quarter sales.

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