Pixel Power: Google Buys a Piece of HTC for $1.1B

Google on Thursday announced a $1.1 billion agreement under which certain HTC employees, including many working with Google on its Android-powered Pixel smartphones, will join Google.

Tied in, Google is also getting a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property. They expect to close the agreement by early 2018.

A deal between HTC and Google has been rumored for weeks, but earlier speculation held that Google would buy a bigger part of HTC, including a virtual reality business that’s led off by the Vive headset/platform.

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HTC said it is working on a new flagship phone that would follow the launch of the HTC U11 earlier this year, and that it would continue to invest in and grow its Vive business while also pursuing strategies around the IoT, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

For Google, the deal gives it more control over the future of Pixel, a smartphone brand/product that was introduced last October. Google is expected to announce the latest in that line next month. Google is set to announce two new smartphone models, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, along with a miniaturized smart home device, The Guardian reported.

While the deal makes Taiwan a “key innovation and technology hub” for Google, it’s also less ambitious than Google’s $12.5 billion play for Motorola Mobility that also includes key intellectual property and later led to Google’s sale of Motorola Home to Arris for $2.35 billion.  

“HTC has been a longtime partner of Google and has created some of the most beautiful, premium devices on the market,” said Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google.

“We're excited and can't wait to welcome members of the HTC team who will be joining Google to fuel further innovation and future product development in consumer hardware,” Rick Osterloh, SVP of hardware at Google, said in a statement.