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.