After a string of decent phones that failed to sell, and a stock price that plunged so low the company was de-listed from the largest Taiwanese stock index, Google is finally ending months of speculation, but not by buying HTC, as previously rumoured. Rather, Google is purchasing the HTC staff behind the design of last year’s Pixel phone, and gaining the (non-exclusive) use of HTC’s big bucket of intellectual property rights. All for the tune of £814 million. Bargain!
According to an HTC press release issued late Wednesday night, the deal involves a “definitive agreement under which certain HTC employees – many of whom are already working with Google to develop Pixel smartphones – will join Google.”
“HTC will receive US$1.1 billion(£814 million) in cash from Google as part of the transaction,” the press release continued. “Separately, Google will receive a non-exclusive licence for HTC intellectual property.”
Previously there were strong rumours that Google would be acquiring HTC outright to get further into the hardware business and gain the kind of end-to-end control that Apple enjoys with its iPhones. Instead, Google is buying a lot of brain to put behind its phone design. A potentially good move as the big bezels we saw in a recent Pixel 2 leak screamed 2015 instead of 2017.
This new agreement means HTC isn’t dead. Parts of the company will live on in its VIVE virtual reality business, which HTC spun off into an wholly-owned subsidiary in the summer of 2016. HTC also says it will continue to work on future mobile tech, including a success to this year’s squeezable U11.
“HTC will continue to have best-in-class engineering talent, which is currently working on the next flagship phone, following the successful launch of the HTC U11 earlier this year,” the press release said. “HTC will also continue to build the virtual reality ecosystem to grow its VIVE business, while investing in other next-generation technologies, including the Internet of Things, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.”
With a big chunk of HTC’s designers and engineers moving over to Google it will be very interesting to see what the next HTC phone will look like, or even if it will actually come to fruition. It will also be interesting to see what Google does with all its brand new talent in Taiwan. Regardless of what new phones come from this agreement we’re going to have to wait until 2018 to see them.
Gizmodo has reached out to HTC for further comment, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.