Google may be preparing to buy HTC’s phone division, and an announcement could come as soon as September 21st.
Earlier this month, Taiwan’s Commercial Times reported that the two companies were talking about an acquisition. Today HTC has halted trading of shares of the company starting September 21st ahead of a major announcement. Oh, and that news came shortly after Evan Blass reported that he’d seen a copy of an internal HTC invitation to a town hall meeting where a Google acquisition would be discussed.
So yeah, it sure looks like this is going to happen.
Update 9/21/2017: OK, so that’s almost what happened. Google didn’t buy HTC’s whole phone division. But it is paying $1.1 billion for about 2,000 employees and a license to use HTC’s intellectual property. HTC will continue making its own phones (for now), but Google gets to bring the team that helped make the Pixel in-house.
Blass notes that the deal will likely be for certain HTC assets rather than for the company has a whole. That means HTC would retain the rights to use its own name.
The most probable explanation? Google is buying HTC’s phone business including hardware and intellectual property, while HTC will continue to develop, market, and sell other products such as the HTC Vive virtual reality headset.
This wouldn’t be the first time Google bought a phone maker. The company acquired Motorola in 2012 and sold it to Lenovo two years later. At the time it seemed pretty clear that Google wasn’t interested in developing its own smartphone hardware and competing with all the other companies that sold phones powered by Google’s Android software. Instead, what Google got with its purchase of Motorola was access to a large library of patents which helped fend off lawsuits from other companies.
Now it’s 2017 and things look a lot different. Google does sell phones with its own name on them, in an effort to offer an integrated hardware and software experience that’s similar to what Apple can offer with its iPhones. But the original Pixel and Pixel XL weren’t actually built by Google. They were made by HTC. This year’s models are expected to be manufactured by HTC and LG.
Acquiring a major smartphone company like HTC would certainly give Google a lot more control over the hardware of future Pixel devices. It’s certainly give new meaning to the inclusion of those phones on the company’s madeby.google.com website.
And the move makes sense for HTC, which was one of the early leaders in the smartphone space, but which has struggled to compete with the dominant players such as Samsung and Apple, as well as newer powerhouses like Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi.
Expect an official announcement in the next day or so. For now, The Verge notes that HTC’s comment is basically that the company has no comment.
Looks like HTC is the next phone company to get killed off by Google. Too bad, HTC used to make nice products.
I agree. Google is smart, they will plunder the patents and sell the brand name to the Chinese. They will not turn a profit, but they will get what they wanted for a low price. It would be foolish for them to do anything else but that.
Well, its hard to feel pity for HTC… they did do a lot of damage to themselves.
HTC realised they couldn’t compete with:
– Apple, who has iOS and OS X ecosystem.
– SONY who is a giant corporation and which has the widest ecosystem from Phones, Cameras, TVs, Sound Systems, Recording Devices, Memory, PCs, Music, Movies, and PlayStation console.
– Samsung who leads in SoC’s, Camera’s, and Display technology.
– LG who is large and also makes its own SoC’s and Display’s, and designs Camera modules for use from other companies (eg SK Hynix).
Those are arguably your Tier 1 phone manufacturers.
The next Tier 2 manufacturers would be those who have experience and reputation in the industry, and also a lot of patents. These are the likes of Motorola, Palm, Blackberry, Nokia, HP, etc etc.
This is where HTC falls under, Tier 2.
Now in the past their mistakes have been utterly obvious to us enthusiasts. Their QC was lacking, which was further damaged by a very sub-par customer service. Their hardware was always second-best, yet they tried charging top dollar. And their designs were good, but destroyed by certain bad decisions: small batteries, large bezels, bad cameras, bad speakers, etc etc. And the worst part is, their software has been questionably bad for a long time, their community support has been wishy-washy, and their update process has been bad overall.
Here’s how HTC could have differentiated themselves from other Tier 1 phones:
– Price slightly below flagships (if Apple is US$650, and Samsung is US$600, HTC can do US$550)
– Include flagship SoC’s from QC with decent storage
– Include a decent Camera from Sony’s IMX
– Include the best secondary modules (speakers, mics, front cam, etc etc)
– Design a phone with the best durability, as a selling point
– Maybe even allow removable cases with different colours and designs like the old Nokia’s
– Ship phones with Stock Android, and deliver monthly updates and support for 3 years
– Allow the phones to be easily bootloader unlockable and rootable, being a de facto Nexus phone from at least 2011/Android 4.0.3
– Have the skinned Sense OS be download-able from HTC’s website, with HTC’s Apps free on the Android Market for HTC handsets
But instead HTC phones were chunky, unreliable, bloated, expensive things with bad support. No wonder they regressed and failed on the market. They could’ve sold customers a “good experience” and value, rather than try competing solely on bleeding-edge specs. They should’ve taken notes from Nokia, OnePlus, etc etc.
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