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Google in billion-dollar buyout of HTC design team
February 4, 2018, 10:38 pm

Google’s $1.1 billion deal to acquire most of Taiwan-based HTC’s smartphone design division was officially confirmed last week by Senior Vice President for Hardware at Google, Rick Osterloh. Announcing the news in a blog post, he hailed the arrival of an “incredibly talented team to work on even better and more innovative products in the years to come.”

The deal involves more than 2,000 HTC engineers moving over to Google. They will all remain in Taiwan; Osterloh notes that Taipei is becoming Google’s biggest engineering hub in the Asia-Pacific region. While HTC’s contract manufacturing operations and VR division are not affected, a substantial majority of the smartphone R&D team will now join Google.

The move represents a serious expansion of Google’s hardware efforts, and the most obvious application of the new engineering talent is in its line of Pixel smartphones. Google worked with a subset of its new HTC hires on a contract basis for the Pixel and Pixel 2, according to a source familiar with the development, and now the company will have a larger R&D team in-house.

Google is still a small player in terms of smartphones shipped, but the Pixel phones are aimed squarely at high-end market leaders like Apple and Samsung. While the Pixel line is not quite mainstream yet, the HTC deal is a concentrated effort to give Google’s hardware division an instant boost in bandwidth. “We don’t want it to be a niche thing,” Osterloh said in an interview last year. “We hope to be selling products in high volumes in five years.”


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