Google has announced the purchase of HTC’s mobile division for $1.1bn (N407bn).
It’s a return to hardware ownership for Google, who now employs HTC’s 2000 staff, and will now make its own devices.
Even though its Android operating system is the most popular in the world, Google has, in the past, delegated the production of its phones to companies like Samsung and Huawei.
Google’s first-branded phone, the Pixel was produced by HTC and released last year, with the Pixel 2 to be released this year.
Hanging over the deal will be the ghost of Motorola Mobility, the phone maker Google paid $12.5bn for in 2011. Motorola struggled under its ownership and it was sold to Lenovo for $2.9bn in 2014, retaining certain patents.
“HTC has been a longtime partner and has created some of the most beautiful, high-end devices on the market,” Rick Osterloh, the head of Google’s hardware department, said.
Osterloh added: “Our team’s goal is to offer the best Google experience—across hardware, software and services—to people around the world.”
The Taiwanese company, whose shares had been suspended pending the announcement, was responsible for some of the first Android handsets capable of competing with the iPhone. But it failed to capitalise and as Samsung moved into the high-end of the market, HTC’s market share collapsed. Shares have fallen 95pc since 2011.
The company’s chief executive Cher Wang said it still had a bright future. “We believe HTC is well positioned to maintain our rich legacy of innovation and realise the potential of a new generation of connected products and services,” she said.
Many see the deal as Google upping the ante on its fight for dominance with Apple, and it’d be interesting to see how that turns out.