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Invest in the Android

Anders Bylund
October 16, 2008

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'