Google today announced plans to acquire part of HTC's mobile division for US$1.1 billion. Rather than directly acquiring the company or the entirety of its smart smartphone division, Google senior vice president of hardware, Rick Osterloh says "a team of HTC talent" will come on board as part of the company's hardware team.
"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," said Osterloh. "The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property."
HTC will continue to build its own smartphones and says it is already working on the successor to the U11. The deal will not see Google purchasing a direct stake in HTC, and HTC's Vive business will continue unchanged. The deal is expected to close in early 2018, subject to regulatory approval.
Osterloh describes the deal as a "testament to the decade-long history of teamwork between HTC and Google".
"Together, we’ve achieved several mobile-industry firsts, including the first ever Android smartphone, the HTC Dream […], as well as the Nexus One in 2010, the Nexus 9 tablet in 2014, and the first Pixel smartphone just last year."
The news comes just weeks before Google's October 5 hardware event, where it is expected to unveil a HTC-manufactured Pixel 2, an LG-manufactured Pixel 2 XL, and a smaller version of Google Home, among other devices.
"We’re excited about the 2017 lineup, but even more inspired by what’s in store over the next five, 10, even 20 years," said Osterloh. "Creating beautiful products that people rely on every single day is a journey, and we are investing for the long run."
The Google-HTC deal seems to suggest Google will be placing a far greater emphasis on hardware in the coming years, and could see it as a stronger competitor to its OEM partners such as a Samsung, Huawei, and LG.
Today's HTC acquisition isn't the first time Google has purchased stake in a smartphone manufacturer. Google bought Motorola back in 2011, before selling the company to Lenovo for a loss in 2014.