Google is set to get an injection of hardware talent, after agreeing to pay HTC $1.1bn for a team of smartphone engineers.
Under the deal, described as a “cooperation agreement”, HTC will effectively send a swathe of its phone engineers over to the search giant, but HTC will still keep making its own phones, as Google will hold no stake in its smartphone arm.
“This agreement also supports HTC’s continued branded smartphone strategy, enabling a more streamlined product portfolio, greater operational efficiency and financial flexibility. HTC will continue to have best-in-class engineering talent, which is currently working on the next flagship phone, following the successful launch of the HTC U11 earlier this year,” the Taiwanese tech company said.
And it will use the hefty handful of dollars to also focus on building out its work in other areas, notably in virtual reality with the VIVE brand: “HTC will also continue to build the virtual reality ecosystem to grow its VIVE business, while investing in other next-generation technologies, including the Internet of Things, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.”
Google on the other hand gets access to the hardware talent it has already used to design and build some of its own-brand smartphones like the Nexus and the upcoming Pixel 2.
With more hardware engineers in-house, Google is likely to gain even more control over how it builds future Pixel smartphones and tablets, potentially setting a more rigorous standard to how Android smartphones should be designed and thus reduce some of the fragmentation found with all the different Android-toting handsets.
There’s also potential for Google to delve deeper into other hardware, with Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of hardware, suggesting HTC’s engineers will help further innovation and “fuel future product development in consumer hardware”.
Before the announcement, speculation had been running rife that Google would buy HTC’s smartphone division. Despite struggling in the mobile hardware market, HTC doesn’t appear to be giving up on smartphones; we’ll have to wait and see if it keeps making mobiles after the release of its next flagship, but at least HTC is not out of the count just yet.
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