Four months after announcing a $1.1 billion agreement to acquire most of HTC's phone division, and specifically the company's Pixel division, Google today announced that it has officially finalized the deal. The team that is now a part of Google is the same one that Google work with in developing its newest flagship phones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, as well as its previous generation Pixel handsets.
"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. 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," said Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of Hardware at Google.
As Google enters its third year of hardware, the company stopped short of buying HTC outright. While that may have been a fleeting consideration at some point, that was probably never going to happen after the way its $12.5 billion Motorola Mobility acquisition played out. That marriage didn't even last a full two years before Google decided to divorce itself, selling Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.
For Google, $1.1 billion is a more conservative investment. And not only does Google get a talented team of engineers that can help the company more aggressively pursue its hardware interests, earlier reports suggested the deal also includes a non-exclusive license to use HTC's intellectual property. That could turn out to be a major bonus, depending on Google's future plans.
HTC comes out a winner here as well. It is gaining a massive influx of cash, and we have to assume that at least a significant portion of that money will be used to advanced HTC's interest in the virtual reality segment. Not that we see HTC abandoning smartphones, but given the success of the Vive and the recent introduction of the Vive Focus, HTC is clearly interested in making a splash in VR.