Google to stick it to Apple in smartphone wars after closing HTC deal

30 Jan 20181.29k Views

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Google Pixel 2 XL. Image: Matteo_it/Shutterstock

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Google is betting big on HTC brains to up the ante against Apple in the smartphone wars.

Google has officially closed a $1.1bn deal with HTC that will see about 2,000 engineers from HTC in Taiwan join the Alphabet company’s ranks.

A crucial element of the acquisition is the power it will give Google to design its own consumer hardware as well as high-end, special-purpose chips.

‘Today, we start digging in with our new teammates, guided by the mission to create radically helpful experiences for people around the world, by combining the best of Google’s AI, software and hardware’
– RICK OSTERLOH

The infusion of 2,000 HTC engineers will help Google design Pixel devices that will rival the iPhone as well as developing custom silicon for future products.

A new front in the intense rivalry with Apple is also opening up in terms of home automation. Apple last week revealed launch dates for its new HomePod speaker system while Google Home, the search giant’s platform for home automation, was very much the star of the show this year at CES.

News of the deal emerged in September last year when the senior vice-president of hardware at Google, Rick Osterloh, confirmed that Google has indeed signed an agreement with HTC.

“With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organisation,” Osterloh said at the time.

As well as the transfer of 2,000 crack engineers, Google will also receive a non-exclusive licence for HTC intellectual property.

HTC is retaining its Vive virtual reality division and will continue to make its own-branded smartphones.

The move also gives Google a new engineering base in Taipei, Taiwan, making it the largest engineering site for the internet giant in the Asia Pacific region.

Made by Google

Google to stick it to Apple in smartphone wars after closing HTC deal

HTC engineers in Taiwan being welcomed into the Google fold. Image: Google

In a blogpost confirming the conclusion of the deal, Osterloh said that hardware is hard work but the Made by Google departure by the tech giant is paying dividends in products such as Pixel 2, the Google Home Mini and Google Pixel Buds, which enable real-time translation in 40 languages.

“That’s why I’m delighted that we’ve officially closed our deal with HTC, and are welcoming an incredibly talented team to work on even better and more innovative products in the years to come. These new colleagues bring decades of experience, achieving a series of ‘firsts’, particularly in the smartphone industry; including bringing to market the first 3G smartphone in 2005, the first touch-centric phone in 2007 and the first all-metal unibody phone in 2013. This is also the same team we’ve been working closely with on the development of the Pixel and Pixel 2.

“As our hardware business enters its third year, we remain committed to building and investing for the long run. Today, we start digging in with our new teammates, guided by the mission to create radically helpful experiences for people around the world, by combining the best of Google’s AI, software and hardware.”

Google Pixel 2 XL. Image: Matteo_it/Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com