Google has made a strategic investment in HTC, and is hiring its best phone engineers.

After intense speculation and lots of pontificating by tech pundits, Google has made it official: it’s going into business with HTC.

But instead of buying HTC’s phone business outright, Google has “signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics, [to hire] a team of HTC talent [to] join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.”

The announcement, made by Rick Osterloh, who heads Google’s nascent hardware division, notes that his company has been working closely with HTC since the early days of Android. Notable devices from those early days include the T-Mobile G1, the Nexus One, the Nexus 9, and the Pixel. HTC is expected to be manufacturing the Pixel 2 for Google this year, too.

It’s still early days for Google’s hardware business. We’re focused on building our core capabilities, while creating a portfolio of products that offers people a unique yet delightful experience only made possible by bringing together the best of Google software—like the Google Assistant—with thoughtfully designed hardware. HTC has been a longtime partner and has created some of the most beautiful, high-end devices on the market. We can’t wait to welcome members of the HTC team to join us on this journey.

The financial details are a bit more sedate — $1.1 billion — than the $12.5 billion Google paid for Motorola back in 2012. It appears that HTC will continue to operate as an independent entity, both as a maker of VR hardware under its Vive division, and as a smartphone maker, too, though in what capacity remains to be seen. HTC CEO Cher Wang said in a press release that her company is preparing for its next flagship already, and that this positions the company well for the future.

What do you think of this announcement? Should Google have bought HTC outright, or does this deal work in its favor? Let us know in the comments below!



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