The list reads like a who's who of the technology industry. Telecoms operators Vodafone, Orange, Telstra, Telia-Sonera and Verizon are there. So too are O2, Hewlett-Packard, PalmOne and Audiovox. But you could be forgiven for glancing past the name at the very top - the name that tells you whose client list all these big names are on. Taiwan's High Tech Computer (HTC) has not received the recognition that its competitors Flextronics or Foxconn enjoy, but investors have taken notice. Since 1999, the electronics manufacturer has built its reputation steadily in what is expected to become a boom industry worldwide. 'When most Taiwanese were doing notebooks, HTC moved into smart hand-held devices,' spokesman Martin Liu said. Smartphones and PDA-phones now comprise the bulk of HTC's business, with few companies able to match the firm on technology, research and development or product development. Its unparalleled command of the sector has helped grow HTC and propel its share price 70 per cent in the past six months. This incredible price growth has led many analysts to rush to put out new share-price targets as their old ones fall by the wayside. HTC's business is held together by solid technology - a strength that did not exist a few years back when product problems hit its earnings and share price. 'The smartphones were not mature and had too many bugs,' Macquarie Securities analyst Dominic Grant said. HTC concedes there was a time when its products had stability issues because system components were also unstable and immature. But with the sector and technology more mature, those problems have been largely forgotten. 'We don't just provide 'me too' products. We always keep the first position in taking on new technologies, even when it's technologies that are not yet mature,' Mr Liu said. Consumers have also started to get wind of HTC's product strength, further boosting demand from clients. HP's iPaq, O2's XDA and Motorola's IDEN are all from the labs of HTC. 'HTC's products have come in at the top of several reviews against similar products from mainstream vendors such as Nokia and Sony-Ericsson,' Mr Grant said. It is not just the technology that has come to the attention of customers and investors. When HTC was looking for a means to sell its wares, it invented a new business model that is already setting the standard for the 3G industry. Rather than develop its own brand name from scratch and sell directly to the consumer - or sell to existing handset brands such as Nokia - HTC opted for a third way. 'Back in 1999, it was very hard to find a penetration point,' Mr Liu said. '[Now] all the designs, specs and manufacturing are done by HTC, but it's developed in co-operation with the operator.' At a time when operators were becoming increasingly irritated with the arrogance of handset makers, HTC offered an alternative that could deliver both the product and the brand control. Today, wireless operators around the world are hooking up customers with smartphone handsets that bear their own name. 'HTC does business direct with operators but without their own brand name, that's why they can keep such high margins,' UBS analyst Arthur Hsieh said. If there is any shadow over the company, it would be its reputation for secrecy. Company executives refused to confirm its client list, which was instead cobbled together from discussions with analysts and insiders. Lack of transparency and visibility has been an ongoing gripe of observers who have trouble tracking what HTC is up to, and thus forecasting accordingly. HTC's success could also be its own greatest threat. Price pressure from less-advanced models could be a threat to earnings as other manufacturers became more flexible with customers, Mr Hsieh warned. 'Competitors are following the business model,' he said.