Google buys large part of HTC’s smartphone team

Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of hardware, writes:

About a year and a half ago, I joined Google to pursue my dream job to create compelling hardware products, built with Google’s smarts at their core. As a first step, we brought together various consumer hardware-related efforts and established a single hardware organization within the company. Our team’s goal is to offer the best Google experience – across hardware, software and services – to people around the world. Last fall, we introduced our first family of Made by Google products, including Pixel smartphones, Google Home, Google Wifi, Daydream View and Chromecast Ultra, and we’re preparing to unveil our second generation of products on October 4. We’re excited about the 2017 lineup, but even more inspired by what’s in store over the next five, 10, even 20 years. Creating beautiful products that people rely on every single day is a journey, and we are investing for the long run.

That’s why we’ve signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics, that will fuel even more product innovation in the years ahead. With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.

This may elicit some flashbacks to Google buying Motorola, but said purchase was more about patents than it was about the company’s hardware business – and even after selling Motorola, it turned out this was actually a pretty good deal. Google’s sale of Motorola supposedly was part of a series of deals with Samsung, which included a patent-sharing agreement and Samsung promising to stick closer to stock Android.

It seems like Google is feeling more confident now, and is willing to risk agitating Samsung by investing in their own hardware capabilities.


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