HTC, the Taiwanese phone maker, surpassed Nokia in market capitalization yesterday, putting it in the ranks of the largest mobile phone makers in the world.

HTC closed Thursday at 1,200 Taiwanese new dollars ($41.37) in the Taipei market. That gives it a market capitalization of NT$981.18 billion ($33.82 billion). Nokia's shares opened in Helsinki at €6.23 ($7.65) Thursday, pulling its market cap down to $33.81 billion, a hair below. At the end of the day Nokia pulled back up to €6.26 ($7.69) getting it back to $33.98 billion.

It is an important symbolic milestone for HTC. Nokia's stock has been battered for the last year -- on April 7, 2010 it closed at €11.70 ($13.12) and had a market capitalization of $63.5 billion. HTC was trading at the NT$390 level, giving it a market cap of $10.8 billion.

On top of that, Moody's and Standard & Poor's both cut Nokia's debt rating. Moody's cut the Finnish company's debt to A3 from A2 and Standard & Poor's cut Nokia's rating to A- from A. Nokia had about 5.3 billion ($7.6 billion) in debt at the end of 2010, while HTC has almost none.

HTC has been boosted by strong sales of its smartphone line, such as the Thunderbolt and EVO. Nokia, meanwhile, has struggled to make inroads in the U.S. market, despite being the best selling handset maker in the world.

Nokia has also had to contend with more competition from rival operating systems as smartphones become known for that as much as the hardware itself. While HTC has rolled out phones using the Android OS, Nokia stayed with Symbian until this year when it signed a partnership with Microsoft and adopted Windows Phone 7.