Google has signed a $US1.1 billion cooperation agreement with HTC, the technology company said in a statement on Thursday, after trading of HTC shares were halted on Taiwan’s stock exchange before the announcement.
The Google hardware exec Rick Osterloh said in a company blog post: “With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organisation.”
“These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line,” Osterloh said.
Separately, Google also signed a nonexclusive licence for HTC intellectual property. The companies did not disclose the financial terms or length of that deal.
This isn’t the first time Google has made a major investment in smartphone hardware development. Google bought Motorola in a $US12.5 billion deal in 2011, only to resell it to Lenovo for $US2.91 billion three years later (Google had sold off other parts of Motorola earlier). At the time, Google said it deemed the overall operation to be a “success,” as it retained Motorola’s most valuable asset, its patent portfolio.
Lately, Google has shown signs of taking an Apple-like strategy toward its products. With its new devices, it’s taking care of both the software, Android, as well as the hardware.
The search giant hired Osterloh, who had been Motorola’s chief operating officer, as its first hardware czar in April of last year and formally put together a hardware team under his leadership.
That resulted in the first solely-Google-branded phone, the Pixel (as well as the larger Pixel XL), and also the Daydream View virtual reality headset. Earlier this year, the Google Home smart speaker followed.
Google is rumoured to be interested in chip manufacturing, which could allow it to compete even better with deeply integrated systems like Apple’s iPhone without having to rely on third-party companies like Qualcomm.
When the first batch of made-by-Google devices was unveiled, Osterloh said that hardware was an important component of the tech titan’s business and that the company would be in it “for the long run.” The acquisition of the HTC team looks like further proof of this commitment.
HTC acted as the “ghost” manufacturer for both Pixel handsets last year, and it is tipped to be the company behind the forthcoming “Pixel 2” (with LG reportedly taking care of the larger, higher-end “Pixel 2 XL”).
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