Google owner Alphabet buys HTC's Pixel smartphone arm

And numerous HTC employees joining Google under the new deal are already working on Pixel phones.

Google announced on Thursday a $1.1-billion deal with HTC, acquiring almost half of the Taiwanese smartphone-maker's 2,000 employees and licences to its intellectual property.

In addition, Google will receive a non-exclusive licence for HTC intellectual property, which is likely to support Pixel phone development. That also means that Google can reallocate any number of engineers to other products, be it Chromecast, Google Home or any number of new and unannounced ones. It came with the line of "made by Google" products including the Pixel brand phone a year ago.

Late past year Google unveiled its "Made by Google" hardware, including its Pixel handsets as well as Chromecast Ultra dongle, Daydream View VR headset, Google Home and Google Wifi.

This isn't the first time Google has made such a big acquisition in the hardware space.

On Google's end, around 2000 HTC employees will be transferred to Google, which is almost a fifth of HTC's current staff.

The transaction is, of course, subject to regulatory approval. That news is no longer a rumor as Google officially announced that it has purchased HTC's "Powered by HTC" research and development division for $1.1 billion.

In what amounts to an acquihire for the USA tech giant, the deal will put around 2,000 HTC R&D employers on Google's payroll. Google's Senior Vice President of Hardware, Rick Osterloh, has just made that announcement. HTC has been a longtime partner of Google's.

Many of the HTC employees jumping ship have already worked closely with Google on the company's Pixel smartphone project. We also know from FCC filings and device teardowns that Google doesn't do as much of the engineering work on the Pixel as it would like you to believe.

This is Google's second attempt at buying smartphone manufacturing expertise: in 2011 the company bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, but sold the company three years later. "We're focused on building our core capabilities, while creating a portfolio of products".

  • Arturo Norris