Invest in the Android

A new player is about to join the smartphone free-for-all fracas -- but it's not immediately clear how investors like you and me can profit from it.

You've heard all about Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) backing the Android smartphone platform. Big G may coordinate that effort, but only as the most prominent and vocal member of the Open Handset Alliance. The usual bunch of curious tech analysts will eventually give us detailed breakdowns of what chip came from which manufacturer, at what cost, and all that jazz. But we'll have to wait for the actual handsets to hit stores first, and we're still a couple of weeks away from that.

What we do know is that Deutsche Telekom's (NYSE: DT  ) T-Mobile will be the first mobile service provider with an Android on offer. Taiwanese handset designer HTC Corporation built it around a dual-core Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) processor, and the touchscreen comes from Synaptics (Nasdaq: SYNA  ) . That's it.

The T-Mobile G1 will hardly move the needle for most of these guys, at least not at first. Google, Qualcomm, and DT are all massive multinational companies with between $10 billion (Qualcomm) and $83 billion (Deutsche Telekom) in annual sales. It takes a lot of smartphones to make any significant difference to numbers like that. Besides, Google doesn't seem too keen on collecting cash from its contributions directly. Mountain View has more devious designs in mind here.

Synaptics is a whole nother story. With only $361 million in trailing sales, the potentially high-margin touchscreen component could quickly add up to serious improvements for this little guy.

And if you look up the Handset Alliance member roster, you'll see that all four of these companies are officially on board. It's not a big stretch to imagine that some of the other hardware and software providers on that list will turn up inside the G1 as well:

Company

Specialty

Market Cap (millions)

Annual Sales (millions)

CAPS Rating

Marvell Technology (Nasdaq: MRVL  )

Communications chips

$4,290

$2,895

****

Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN  )

Speech and handwriting recognition software

$2,219

$602

****

SiRF Technology Holdings (Nasdaq: SIRF  )

GPS chips

$64.8

$329

***

Source: Capital IQ.

I believe that the G1 will be a hit, because Google wouldn't have it any other way. But if you really want to profit from this new gadget right away, you would probably be better off making some educated guesses and investing in one of the little guys.

Further Foolishness:

Nuance Communications is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, and his cell phone is a different HTC model with a T-Mobile service contract, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2008, at 2:48 PM, g1phone wrote:

    I think the G1 is going to be very popular, not sure if they have sold the 1.5 Million as reported but a worthy competitor to the iPhone.

    Lots of reviews of the G1 are available on my blog: http://g1phone.blogspot.com

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