Rumour: Google is going to buy HTC’s mobile business

Alex Kidman 8 September 2017 NEWS

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Is Google about to become a mobile manufacturer for the second time?

It's been no particular business secret that Taiwan-based HTC hasn't been doing so well in the mobile business in recent years. Despite having some top-notch handsets, particularly the HTC U11, the firm has struggled to deliver handsets that have captured the attention of consumers, leading to plunging sales and a lot of talk about HTC selling off its mobile division to focus on its HTC Vive platform.

The latest suitor tipped to pick up HTC's business is none other than Google, with Business Insider reporting (via a Taiwanese publication) that Google may be in the final phases of acquisition of HTC's mobile business.

At one level, the move would appear to make a lot of sense for Google, with last year's Pixel and Pixel XL phones being produced for Google by HTC. Although rumours suggest that LG may have scored the contract for the 2nd generation Pixel phones this year, Google's acquisition of HTC could lead to it becoming the effective in-house foundry for new handsets.

However, there is also some history here, because it's not the first time that Google has owned its own in-house mobile brand. Google purchased Motorola Mobile from Motorola for $US12.5 billion in 2011, promising other vendors that it wouldn't treat the brand preferentially over other Android manufacturers.

Just 3 years later, Motorola was sold to Lenovo for just $US2.9 billion, with only a few handsets released directly under the Google umbrella for that near $US10 billion loss.

Google is in a different position than it was in 2011, where it needed Android OEMs to face off against the iPhone juggernaut, however, so it's feasible that if the HTC sale is legitimate, it might plough ahead with its own brand regardless.

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