Google’s latest acquisition could be Taiwanese smartphone company HTC. Rumours circulating from the Taiwanese press suggests that the Californian web company could be looking to form a strategic partnership with HTC or look to buy the company wholesale.
Chinese-language site the Commercial Times says that HTC is in the “final stage of negotiation with Google for selling its smartphone business unit”.
Currently, Google and HTC have a reasonably good relationship. Not only did HTC build one of the first Android phones on the market, it also created the first Google Nexus device, along with manufacturing last year’s Google Pixel and Pixel XL. Rumours around the Pixel 2 also suggest that HTC is involved with its production.
HTC could be looking to sell off it’s floundering smartphone arm after its fortunes began to take a turn over the last year. Despite the HTC U11 receiving positive reviews, HTC still saw a sharp decline in unit sales. According to DigiTimes, HTC brought in $99.7 million in August, a decline of 51.5% from July 2017 and 54.4% year on year against August 2016.
Google has previous experience in the smartphone business having acquired the Motorola brand in 2011. The company then sold off its mobile arm in 2014 to Chinese OEM Lenovo, but Google is now in a far better position to buy and run a technology manufacturer like HTC now than it was back in 2011.
One big draw for Google is HTC’s manufacturing capabilities, allowing Google to produce and manufacture all of its products entirely in-house. This would bring it on par with Apple and Microsoft, which produce and design all their own hardware entirely in-house. Currently, Google awards projects to third-party manufacturers, who then do all the leg work in conjunction with Google.
I reached out to HTC for comment on the acquisition but, as you can expect, received the party line in response: “As per company policy, HTC doesn’t comment on rumours or speculation.”
It should be noted that the sale does not include HTC’s VR business as HTC Vive operates as a completely separate company to its smartphone arm. This means that Google won’t suddenly be producing a fully-fledged VR headset in tandem with HTC.
As with any rumour, especially one only found in a single publication, it’s definitely worth taking it with more than a pinch of salt. Still, a Google acquisition may not be a bad thing for HTC’s fortunes.