Google is making another big buy into smartphone hardware — or at least the people responsible for creating it. The company has just confirmed that it plans to acquire part of HTC’s mobile division team for $1.1 billion. “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,” Rick Osterloh, Google’s hardware boss, wrote in a blog post. “The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.”
Peter Shen, HTC’s chief financial officer, said that HTC would still employ more than 2,000 research and design staffers after the deal is done, down from around 4,000, according to the New York Times. That makes today’s announcement more of an acquihire of talent than a traditional acquisition of resources.
HTC will continue onward with its own smartphone business even after sending a good portion of its talent and operations over to Google. HTC CEO Cher Wang said that this agreement will “ensure continued innovation within our HTC smartphone and Vive virtual reality business.” In fact, HTC’s press release reveals that the company is already “actively preparing” for its next flagship smartphone. A major announcement was all but assured Wednesday, when HTC announced it would briefly halt trading on the Taiwan stock exchange ahead of “material information” to come on Thursday (local time).
This is the second time that Google has made a big purchase involving a smartphone manufacturer. Six years ago, Google announced a $12.5 billion buyout of Motorola Mobility. “Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers everywhere,” said then-Google CEO Larry Page.