SAN FRANCISCO: Google announced late Wednesday night that it is spending $1.1 billion to hire a team of engineers from the smartphone business of the struggling Taiwanese manufacturer HTC in a bid to bring more hardware expertise to its own mobile technology operations.
HTC said many of its estimated 2,000 employees affected by the deal were already working with the search giant on smartphones. Google leaned on HTC to manufacture its first Pixel smartphone, which was released last year, and is working with the company to produce the next version of the phone, which is expected to be announced on Oct. 4.
Bringing on the team from HTC is a sign that Google is doubling down on plans to produce its own hardware. Company executives have said it is important to tightly couple its artificial intelligence software, like the voice-controlled Google Assistant, with a range of devices.
Apple has followed a similar strategy for years, and that has provided the iPhone maker with an easier path when adding new features, such as augmented reality functions, since it designs nearly all of the internal parts of its phone.
As part of the agreement, Google will also secure a nonexclusive licensing deal for some of HTC’s intellectual property.
HTC said it will continue to make its own smartphones — including a new premium model — although it plans to streamline its handset portfolio. By acquiring the HTC engineering group that had already been working with the company, Google secured hardware talent without taking on expensive assets, like manufacturing facilities.