Google Completes Acquisition of Key HTC Employees

Posted on January 30, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, Mobile with 5 Comments

Google Completes Acquisition of Key HTC Employees

Google has cemented its bet on hardware by finalizing the deal to bring 2000 key HTC employees to the search giant. The aim? To build a world-class hardware team.

Granted, Google’s hardware lineup, today, is anything but world-class. As I pointed out previously, the Pixel 2 XL is an ongoing disaster, the Home Mini was caught spying on users, the Pixel Buds were loathed by reviewers, and Google Home Max and Clips both shipped much later than expected.

Google must have seen this coming: Back in September, ahead of its October hardware event, the firm announced that it was stealing away about 2,000 employees from the struggling smartphone maker HTC. Under the terms of the deal, HTC would allow about one-fifth of its workforce, and arguably its most key of personnel assets, to head to Google.

“We’ve signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics, that will fuel more product innovation in the years ahead,” a Google statement noted at the time. “With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization. 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. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.”

Well, today, that deal has been finalized, Google says.

“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,” Google senior vice president Rick Osterloh explains. “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.”

That last bit is interesting, by the way. HTC did provide the hardware chassis and design for the original Pixel and Pixel XL, and for the second-generation Pixel 2. But it did not provide the reviled Pixel 2 XL, which is perhaps telling. Where the Pixel 2 XL is roundly criticized for its many flaws, the only gripe against the Pixel 2 is that it is perhaps a bit old-fashioned looking with its big forehead and chin. But the device doesn’t seem to suffer from any endemic hardware problems like its bigger (and non-HTC) sibling.

So maybe these folks can help. Because, from where I’m sitting, Google could absolutely use some help with hardware.


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Comments (5)

5 responses to “Google Completes Acquisition of Key HTC Employees”

  1. JacobTheDev

    > the Home Mini was caught spying on users

    While technically true, I think that's a bit misleading to word it that way. It was a bug that they quickly remedied (by neutering the product, no less). Clearly they took it very seriously, and responded promptly and appropriately.

    > the Pixel Buds were loathed by reviewers

    I saw a number of mixed reviews, which ultimately resulted in "meh" more than "loathed." After seeing the reviews, I picked up a pair (because I'm a dumb masochist) and I've been relatively happy with them; they sound good for ear buds, they're pretty comfortable, and their Bluetooth connection doesn't constantly crap out like my Bose over-ears. Still, I admit, not a great investment, I just think "loathed" is a bit strong when there where such mixed reviews, most of which where more dissmissive than loathsome.

  2. Nicholas Kathrein

    "The Pixel 2 XL is an ongoing disaster, the Home Mini was caught spying on users,"

    Not true at all but you don't have to agree with me and I know these type of articles need to be a bit over the top.

    1. I have a Pixel XL2 so just like you I have my experience. I know you have issues with the screen. I don't. Not sure the other issues. I guess i'm lucky that my phone has been great and wouldn't trade it for any phone currently.
    2. The Home Mini wasn't caught spying. That presumes intent. The top sensor was defective and had many phantom taps which activated it. All Google can do is disable that sensor. It's not a major issue. A reviewer noticed the issue with a preproduction model and told Google. They sent an engineer the same day at night, driving 2 or 3 hrs in each direction to go pickup the device to see why this was happening. This was before any mini's shipped and Google figured out their manufacture messed up the unit in at least the pre production models.
    3. Pixel buds do seem like something they should have held off for reversion 2.
    4. Google Home Max shipped late.. Did it. I can't find any articles saying it's late. I did a quick Google search "Google Home Max late" and couldn't find anything. Not sure where you saw a date on release because at Google IO introduced it there was no date given. By all accounts it sounds great and gets very loud if you need something that can go loud.
    5. Google Wifi is a Google product that gets great reviews. People love the Pixel 2. Do a Youtube search of returned iPhoneX or switched to Pixel 2 XL. There are plenty that have tried both an choose the Google phone. If it's that bad with the current price people wouldn't do that.
  3. William Kempf

    Not sure anything can save Google when it comes to hardware. How is this different than Motorola, who they bought and then sold off? They've had a few hardware successes, like the Chromecast, but mostly they've done worse than MS here, which is saying a lot. So far their real success, like MS's, has been with relying on hardware partners. Not saying they can't turn that around, just like Microsoft can, but how can buying yet another failing phone maker help?

    • Nicholas Kathrein

      In reply to William_Kempf:

      Wow really? How is this different? It's actually way different. Let me list the ways.

      Google purchased Motorola not because Google wanted any kind of manufacturing of devices. This purchase wasn't nothing more than a patents grab. Google at the time was under the "going nuclear" of Apple. They were suing Samsung and didn't know who would be next. Could they get sued? Did they have the patents to defend themselves or help defend the smaller OEMs using Android? It was a tense time and it was an arms race. In patent war patents are the weapons.

      Google reluctantly ran Motorola's cell phone division putting up a Chinese wall of sorts between them and Android development teams. People will say there was help from the Android development teams and others say no. Google's public line was no different than Microsoft's. They value their partners who make Android devices. Motoroloa is a separate company ran by their CEO. Google would not play favorites. 

      Samsung stated playing hardball by pushing Tizen OS as a new option and building copy services for all of Googles services like "Milk" ,"SVoice", and a host of other stuff. This would allow Samsung to move their use to Tizen if they could get their users to use Samsung Services. They even released new tablets with "magazine OS" which was a total UI departure from what Google wanted on their current tablets. Later they made a deal with Samsung to sell Motorola if Samsung would step back on it's on thick Android skins and all the duplicate apps and services and to remove the "magazine OS". They didn't all go away but sine that deal they cut them every year and the skin over Android was lessened a lot. Tizen OS as far as phones was not pushed to more than a few phones over the years. They have it on watches and Appliances but Samsung saw they couldn't compete with Android OS for phones.

      Did Google loose all the money on this like Microsoft did with Nokia?

      Per the NY Times. BY MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED JANUARY 29, 2014

      "The deal universe is abuzz about how Google lost billions of dollars in selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. After all, the technology giant paid $12.5 billion for Motorola, so clearly it would take a $9.5 billion hit, right?

      Not so fast.

      Breaking down the admittedly messy math shows that Google didn’t exactly lose nearly $10 billion on the deal. Here are some back of the envelope calculations.

      When Google bought Motorola, the hardware maker had about $3 billion in cash on hand and nearly $1 billion in tax credits. So that brings the original deal’s effective price down to about $8.5 billion.

      Then, Google sold Motorola’s set-top box business to Arris for nearly $2.4 billion. That lowers the effective price to roughly $6.1 billion.

      Now, Google is selling Motorola Mobility — primarily the handset business, along with a few patents — for $2.9 billion. So we’re at about $3.2 billion.

      It’s worth noting a few more things. In a regulatory filing in 2012, Google disclosed that it valued Motorola’s overall “patents and developed technology” at about $5.5 billion.

      Related Links

      Google Is Selling Its Mobility Unit to Lenovo for About $3 Billion

      Under the terms of the deal announced on Wednesday, Google will hold onto the bulk of Motorola Mobility’s patents. By comparison, the group of companies like Apple Inc. and Microsoftthat bought Nortel Networks‘ patents out of bankruptcy paid about $4.5 billion in total. So Google got a pretty good deal.

      Moreover, it has drawn revenue from Motorola’s patents since the transaction closed, putting a further dent in that deal’s cost.

      Of course, these calculations ignore the strategic benefits Google has enjoyed from the deal. It locked up important patents to defend its Android ecosystem, while climbing into a position to pick the right strategic partners for the Motorola hardware businesses.

      Admittedly, Motorola has also run up millions of dollars worth of operating losses during its time as a Google subsidiary. But all told, the technology giant did not do so bad after all."