Cher Wang (王雪紅), H. T. Cho (卓火土), and Peter Chou (周永明) founded HTC in 1997. Initially a manufacturer of notebook computers, HTC began designing some of the world's first touch and wireless hand-held devices in 1998.
HTC started making Windows Mobile PDAs and smartphones starting from 2004 under the Qtek brand. In 2006 the range was rebranded as HTC with the launch of the HTC TyTN.
In 2007, HTC acquired the mobile device company Dopod International.
In 2008, HTC unveiled the HTC Max 4G, the first GSM mobile phone to support WiMAX networks.
HTC joined Google's Open Handset Alliance and then developed and released the first device powered by Android OS in 2008, the HTC Dream.
In November 2009 HTC released the HTC HD2, the first Windows Mobile device with a capacitive touchscreen. The same year, HTC Sense debuted as a user interface which continues to be used as of 2018.
In 2009, HTC partnered with Taiwanese automaker Luxgen to develop the Windows CE-based "Think+" infotainment system for its Luxgen7 MPV.
In July 2010, HTC announced it would begin selling HTC-branded smartphones in China in a partnership with China Mobile. In October 2010, HTC launched the brand tagline "quietly brilliant"', and the YOU campaign, HTC's first global advertising campaign. The same month, the HTC HD7 was released as one of the launch models of Microsoft's revitalised Windows Phone. In 2010, HTC sold over 24.6 million handsets, up 111% over 2009.
At the Mobile World Congress in February 2011, the GSM Association named HTC the "Device Manufacturer of the Year" in its Global Mobile Awards. In April 2011, HTC surpassed Nokia as the third-largest smartphone manufacturer by market share, behind Apple and Samsung.
On 6 July 2011, it was announced that HTC would buy VIA Technologies' stake in S3 Graphics. On 6 August 2011, HTC acquired Dashwire for $18.5M. In August 2011, HTC confirmed a plan for a strategic partnership with Beats Electronics involving acquiring 51 percent of the company.
The 2011 Best Global Brands rankings released by Interbrand, listed HTC at #98 and valued it at $3.6 billion. Based on researcher Canalys, in Q3 2011 HTC Corporation became the largest smartphone vendor in the U.S. with 24 percent market share, ahead of Samsung's 21 percent, Apple's 20 percent and BlackBerry's 9 percent. HTC Corporation made different models for each operator.
During early 2012, HTC lost much of this U.S. market share due to increased competition from Apple and Samsung. According to analyst firm comScore, HTC only accounted for 9.3% of the United States smartphone market as of February 2013. In light of the company's decrease in prominence, Chief Executive Peter Chou had informed executives that he would step down if the company's newest flagship phone, the 2013 HTC One, had failed to generate impressive sales results. HTC's first quarter results for 2013 showed its year-over-year profit drop by 98.1%, making it the smallest-ever profit for the company—the delay of the launch of the HTC One was cited as one of the factors. In June 2012, HTC moved its headquarters from Taoyuan City (now Taoyuan District) to Xindian District, New Taipei City. On 14 January 2013, HTC launched its smartphones in Burma.
The HTC One was released in mid-2013 and, subsequently won various industry awards in the best smartphone and best design categories, but global sales of the HTC One were lower than those for Samsung's Galaxy S4 flagship handset and HTC recorded its first ever quarterly loss in early October 2013: a deficit of just under NT$3 billion (about US$100m, £62m). Marketing problems were identified by HTC as the primary reason for its comparative performance, a factor that had been previously cited by the company.
During 2013, Microsoft were in negotiations to purchase HTC. This was only revealed in 2018 by Risto Siilasmaa, chairman of Nokia, in an interview with the Helsingin Sanomat. Microsoft would eventually purchase Nokia's mobile phone business that year.
In August 2013, HTC debuted a new "Here's To Change" global marketing campaign featuring actor Robert Downey, Jr., who signed a two-year contract to be HTC's new "Instigator of Change.". On 27 September 2013, HTC announced that it would sell back its stake in Beats Electronics
Following the release of the HTC One, two variants were released to form a trio for the 2013 HTC One lineup. A smaller variant named the HTC One Mini was released in August 2013, and a larger variant named the HTC One Max was released in October 2013. Similar in design and features to the HTC One, the upgraded aspects of the One Max include a display measuring 5.9 inches (15 cm), a fingerprint sensor and a removable back cover for expandable memory. The product was released into the European and Asian retail environment in October 2013, followed by a US launch in early November 2013.
In March 2014, HTC released the HTC One (M8), the next version of the HTC One flagship, at press conferences in London and New York City. In a change from previous launches, the HTC One was made available for purchase on the company website and North American mobile carrier websites on the same day a few hours after the launch.
In April 2014, HTC reported sales climbing 12.7 percent to NT$22.1 billion, the company's fastest growth since October 2011. In September 2014, Google selected HTC to make its Nexus 9 tablet. In August 2014 HTC announced a Windows Phone-powered variant of the One (M8), their first using the operating system since 2012. HTC ended its long relationship with Microsoft afterwards due to Nokia's dominance in Windows Phone devices, and started focusing solely on Android.
On 1 March 2015, HTC unveiled Vive, a virtual reality head-mounted display in collaboration with Valve Corporation. In June and October 2015, HTC reported net losses; the company has faced increased competition from other smartphone makers, including Apple, Samsung, and others, which had resulted in a decline in its smartphone sales, as well a major loss of market share. Its smartphone market share had rose back to 7.2 percent in April 2015 due to its strong sales of recent devices, but HTC's stock price had fallen by 90 percent since 2011.
In November 2016, HTC reported that it had sold at least 140,000 Vive units, and that each unit was being sold at a profit. In January 2017, HTC unveiled its new U series smartphone line, the U Play and U Ultra; the company described the U series as a "new direction" for its phones, emphasizing an integrated virtual assistant developed by the company. In February 2017, HTC reported that in the fourth quarter of 2016, its operating losses had decreased by 13% year-over-year, citing "robust sales performance" and sequential revenue increases throughout the year.
On 21 September 2017, Google announced that it would acquire roughly half of the 4,000 employees who worked in HTC's design and research staff, and non-exclusive licences to smartphone-related intellectual property held by HTC, for US$1.1 billion. The employees included the team involved with Google's Pixel smartphone, which was manufactured by HTC. Google stated that the purchase was part of its efforts to bolster its first-party hardware business. The transaction was completed on 30 January 2018; while HTC will continue to produce its own smartphones, the company has stated that it planned to increase its focus on Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual reality going forward.
On 26 March 2018, HTC reported a quarterly net loss of US$337 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, citing "market competition, product mix, pricing, and recognized inventory write-downs". The company's transaction with Google will be reflected in its first quarter 2018 numbers. HTC stated that it would use the revenue to further its investments in "emerging technologies". The company had also cited its increasing VR investments, including its upcoming Vive Pro model, and Vive Focus—a standalone "all-in-one" VR headset unveiled in November 2017.
In July 2018 HTC has revealed that it has entered into a partnership with games and apps developer and publisher Animoca. This includes product development and joint collaboration in areas such as games, blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality. Animoca's games will be pre-installed on HTC devices in the future.