Google Could Be Ready to Buy Smartphone Company HTC

A Chinese-language newspaper reported that Google could be buying out HTC, the smartphone manufacturer currently responsible for making the company's popular Pixel.
Shelby Rogers
Brian Rakowski, VP of Product Management at Google, during the Pixel's debutGoogle/YouTube

Tech giant Google is rumored to be in the "final stages of negotiations" according to one Chinese news outlet. This could indicate a want on Google's end to either expand their VR capabilities or revamp their smartphone development. 

The rumors all started when a Taiwanese newspaper Commercial Times suggested that Google only wanted the cell phone part of HTC. However, few details existed on the website other than speculation about what Google would want with HTC's mobile wing. This isn't the first indication that HTC was looking to sell. 

In August, a Bloomberg report hinted that HTC was looking at selling part of or all of its company. HTC had been looking to sell its Vive virtual reality headset, and insiders within HTC leaked that executives had been meeting with Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company. When pressed about the discussions, spokespeople for HTC said they didn't comment on rumors. Google remained characteristically silent. 

It's not like Google had a failed product with the Pixel either. The Pixel garnered positive reviews and continued to have one of the best cameras on the smartphone market. But between Apple and Samsung dominating the fields, other makers have struggled to step into prominence. That's caused a problem for both Google in the United States and HTC in China. 

Ramon Llamas works as IDC's research manager for mobile phones. He called the Android market "cutthroat."

“Apple and Samsung have made it hard for HTC to stay at the top of the market, and Chinese phone makers have made it hard for HTC to dominate the middle and low end of the market,” Llamas said in an interview with Bloomberg.

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HTC once found great success in the U.S., especially as a global smartphone maker. The company came to life in 1997 as a contracted manufacturer. It earned a deal with Microsoft in 2002 to make Windows-based phones. From there, the popularity skyrocketed even during the early era of the iPhone and remained one of the market's biggest competitors. It also made the first Android smartphone (the HTC Dream or T-Mobile G1) in 2008. There also seems to be plenty of reason for Google to want to acquire HTC entirely. After all, HTC is the company responsible for making the Pixel. 

But this isn't Google's first time acquiring a company only to resell it. Google purchased Motorola Mobility in May 2012 for $12.5 billion. They resold various divisions of Motorola Mobility for roughly $3 billion each. Google also retained Motorola's patent portfolio -- the real prize in acquiring the company -- for just $3.5 billion. While it might look like a net loss, Google executives called it "a success" when the resold the company in 2014. 


Commercial Times also hinted that Google might acquire HTC for its VR play rather than smartphone building capabilities, even if Google bought the entirety of HTC. The news outlet said that Google had an urge to "perfect [the] integration of software, content, hardware, network, cloud, [and] AI," thus making HTC the smart purchase for Google. 

Could this be the start of something big for both Google and HTC? Well, the public might learn more whenever either company would like to comment. For now, however, Android fans will have to hold on to these rumors like Apple fans are currently holding on to iPhone 8 leaks. 

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