While HTC will continue to exist, Google is going to assume control of the pieces that ran the mobile division.
Google and HTC have reached an agreement in which the Taiwanese will send a large number of employees from its mobile division to Mountain View in exchange for $1.1 billion in cash. The deal also includes a non-exclusive licence for HTC intellectual property to be accessible by Google moving forward. What Google receives is an experienced team and the ability to utilize existing and new HTC-made products and services for its own purposes.
The two companies made the announcement on Wednesday night after weeks of rumors floating around.
Here’s what Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google, had to say about the deal:
“We’re excited about and can’t wait to welcome members of the HTC team who will be joining Google to fuel further innovation and future product development in consumer hardware.”
There are clearly plans for Google to go all-in on hardware very soon. In recent years, the company has slowly-but-surely embraced making its own products. The addition of HTC’s team quickens the process.
A dramatic change doesn’t appear to be in order at HTC. The company says it has “best-in-class engineering talent” currently developing a successor to the U11. So the mobile division won’t completely vanish. It’s team is just depleted. HTC will also continue advancing the Vive platform for virtual reality.
It’s not the first time Google and HTC have worked together. When the mobile operating system was born, the Taiwanese stepped forward to release the world’s first consumer-ready Android device. That was the HTC Dream (or T-Mobile G1), which debuted in 2008. Then the two companies worked together on the Nexus 9 in 2014 and the Pixel in 2016. For 2017, Google tasked HTC with the development of the smaller Pixel 2. The deal announced this week ensures their relationship will continue, albeit with Google making each and every decision.
Both companies expect the deal to close by early 2018. If that happens, a complete Google phone with in-house hardware and software should be released near the end of the year. Then the real battle against Apple has officially begun, and even Android’s partners should be worried.