All posts in “HTC”

Google buys a big chunk of HTC’s smartphone business

Image: Dustin Drankoski/Mashable

The rumors are (mostly) true: Google is buying a part of HTC to beef up its hardware business.

Google announced the agreement late Wednesday. Senior Vice President of Hardware Rock Osterloh wrote in a blog post that a “team of HTC talent” would join Google’s hardware team, along with a non-exclusive license for some of HTC’s intellectual property.

The deal is less dramatic than what was expected by many — that Google would buy HTC’s entire smartphone business in a long-term bid to go toe-to-toe with Apple in the smartphone market — but it does show Google felt it needed more direct control over hardware assets to be more nimble competitor. 

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but a Reuters report that broke just before the deal was announced said Google paid about $1 billion. By comparison, when Google acquired the entirety of Motorola Mobility in 2011, it paid $12.5 billion.

HTC, which has struggled financially in recent years as its influence in the smartphone market has dwindled, sent out a tweet shortly after the announcement proclaiming it’s “here to stay.”

Google’s Osterloh said the people leaving HTC were already working with Google on the Pixel smartphones, and that the second generation of Made by Google products — including the Pixel, Google Home, Chromecast, and Daydream View — would be revealed at the company’s upcoming Oct. 4 event in San Francisco.

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Google, HTC sign $1.1B USD cooperation agreement to boost Google’s hardware game

Google and HTC have entered into an agreement where certain HTC employees will join Google. As part of the transaction, HTC will receive $1.1B USD in cash from Google. Google will also receive non-exclusive license for HTC’s intellectual property. HTC says many of the employees worked with Google to develop the Pixel smartphones.

This is seemingly part of the search giant’s new hardware strategy, which is why it ended up acquiring part of another smartphone maker despite having previously acquired and then divested itself of Motorola’s mobile business.

Sources had reported that the reason share trading was halted on September 21 was because of a major pending announcement, and a VentureBeat report included an internal invitation for HTC staff to an all-hands meeting at which the news would be announced.

Media waiting outside during Thursday’s internal announcement at HTC headquarters in Xindian, New Taipei City

HTC has helped create a number of Google devices, and provided the manufacturing for the Pixel smartphone. It also built the last Nexus, the 6P, before Google took over design duties for its own smartphone hardware.

“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, in a released statement. “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.”

The Taiwanese company has focused increasingly on its emerging VR business, which includes the HTC Vive headset. It continues to make its own smartphones, too, and received some high critical praise for its U11 device this year.

The deal between Google and HTC will see the latter company retain its branding, but Google will take over some of its hardware engineering resources, which should help it own even more of its device-making process. Google had stepped back from in-house hardware after selling its Motorola unit to Lenovo, but recently re-engaged on that front with a different approach focused on premium smartphones, as well as accessories and smart home and connectivity devices like Google WiFi, and Google Home.

HTC stock suspension adds fuel to Google acquisition rumors


HTC is to suspend trading of its stock on the TWSE tomorrow, ahead of what it says will be the release of “material information” pertaining to its business. The news was reported earlier by the FT

The move has spiked speculation about a potential sale of HTC’s mobile division, with the Taiwanese device maker struggling for years to try to turn around its fortunes in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

In recent years loss-making quarters have become the norm for HTC, which posted its first ever loss making quarter in Q3 2013. And despite management changes, portfolio trimming and even pushing into a new product category (VR, via a partnership with games publisher Valve) it has been unable to pull its business out of a long slide.

Media reports in Asia have recently linked Google’s parent company Alphabet with a possible acquisition of HTC’s mobile business. And a note on HTC’s investor website references speculation in the China Times that “HTC might announce the sale to Google” — going on to specify its “countermeasure” to this report is to state: “HTC does not comment on market rumor or speculation”.

If Google is indeed set to pick up HTC’s smartphone division it would not be the first time it’s swooped in to try to salvage one of its Android OEMs. The company acquired Motorola Mobility in 2011, shelling out $12.5BN on the purchase. Then in 2014 it sold the division to Lenovo for $2.91BN — holding on to “the vast majority” of Motorola’s patent portfolio.

Smartphone leaker Evan Blass has tweeted that he’s been sent a copy of an internal HTC invite for employees to a town hall meeting tomorrow — which apparently includes “Google acquisition” as one of the topics.

Blass says the same source further claims the deal that the two companies have finalized will see Google acquire “certain hardware engineering assets” from HTC, while the latter retains its brand — and will focus on VR and the Vive.

We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update this post with any response.

HTC Vive’s second E3 finds VR gaining some AAA steam


HTC is back at E3 this year for its sophomore turn at the gaming expo, after its first show in 2016 following closely on the heels of the Vive VR headset’s consumer launch. I spoke to HTC VP of VR Dan O’Brien at this year’s E3, to find out a bit about how the company sees the market, its role therein and the state of VR in general now that it’s not the newest kid on the block.

We talked a bit about how important it is to see big games embrace the platform, including Bethesda’s Doom and Fallout VR titles (it wasn’t yet public that Mario Kart would also be making its way to the Vive via Tokyo arcades, but the same conclusions apply). O’Brien was candid about how despite strong indie support, which HTC continues to prize, big name games coming to VR are sure to help it continue to mature as an industry, and attract new gamers who might’ve been content to otherwise stay sat on the fence.

The Vive has also evolved from a hardware perspective, and O’Brien pointed out that both the new Deluxe Audio Strap, and Intel’s upcoming WiGig wireless adapter kit for Vive are going to be on display and available for testing this year at the show. The Vive Tracker, which brings other objects into the gaming world, is likewise on display with some new game integrations. The headset itself may not have changed since last year, but we’ve learned a lot about user experience, on both hardware and software fronts.

VR might not yet be a breakaway smash hit, even when it’s tied to a console and with a lower barrier to entry than the Vive, as with PS VR. But O’Brien doesn’t seem under any illusions about the work that still needs to be done in the space, and as proof he points to recent partnership announcements, including with Google, on different approaches to broadening the appeal of VR in general.

HTC didn’t get have anything as grandiose as its own Vive keynote at its second E3, necessarily, but it did see the VR pioneer incorporated in big announcements from Sony, Bethesda and Nintendo – not bad for a relative gaming expo novice.

Google’s likely ditching HTC for LG when it comes to the next Pixel

Life may or may not be good.
Life may or may not be good.

Image: DUSTIN DRANKOSKI/MASHABLE

Are you paying attention, Pixelheads? A small but important change may be coming to your smartphone of choice. 

Reports suggest that the next iteration of the Pixel is going to be manufactured by an entirely different company. 

The Google Pixel has long been made by Taiwanese-based HTC, but according to a smattering of reports across the Pixelverse, that will likely soon change. And what company will dethrone HTC as the maker of the next Google phone?

That would allegedly be LG.  

Follow along as we chase this trail of breadcrumbs to its South Korean terminus. Android Police reported on June 12 that the next generation Pixel XL is likely codenamed “taimen.” 

What is a taimen, you ask? It’s a type of salmon. 

Next, we learned via 9to5Google that someone working for LG reported a “USB PD Compliance Failure” in the Android Issue Tracker. But the rabbit hole goes even deeper: A “Googler” then asked that this report be moved to “Android > Partner > External > LGE > Taimen > power.” 

Ergo, LG is working on the next generation Pixel XL. 

Oh, also, an Android Police editor claimed LG is manufacturing the taimen.

See how neatly the pixelated pieces fit together?

The next version of the Pixel XL is expected to be unveiled in the fall of 2017, so true fans are surely already lining up at participating retail stores.  

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