Earlier this month HTC's top exec in Europe, Florian Seiche, stated that the Taiwanese company would release an NFC-equipped handset within a year.

And now we've had confirmation of just how significant HTC considers the platform to be from the big cheese himself, CEO Peter Chou, who stated during his keynote address at Uplinq that by 2015 there would be 500 million NFC enabled smartphones in the world.

He stated that HTC would be a big player in a future that is "happening very fast" and that its phones would also pack a Digital ID to make your handset much more than an electronic wallet.

"We believe that biometric technology will play a critical role in the development of mobile health care," he said.

Chou also used the keynote to stress that HTC is now a "top 5" smartphone company, the "number one" Android manufacturer, and that its Q1 2011 sales of 9.7million was triple that of the same period in 2010. Its 2010 sales of 25 million devices worldwide represented a 100 per cent increase on 2009.

He also re-iterated, once again, that HTC still values its relationship with Microsoft and even predicted that the Windows Phone app selection could soon rival that of the Android Market.

Are you a HTC fan? Which phone are you packing and how do you think the company can continue to compete with the likes of Apple, RIM and Samsung? Give us your thoughts below...