Google wants to win the smartphone game, and with the recent HTC deal, there’s a realistic roadmap to getting there.
When rumors began swirling about Google buying HTC’s smartphone division, anyone with an opinion on the industry had thoughts; here’s why it’s good for Google; here’s why it’s a terrible idea. Both sides were probably right, to some extent.
Now that the deal is done, though, we have a more nuanced understanding of exactly what transpired, and why Google chose not to acquire HTC’s entire smartphone division, but instead over 2,000 of its employees, most of which have worked in some capacity on the company’s Pixel lineup. The deal ensures that the Pixel lineup is here to stay, that Google is not just invested in hardware as a division — this is not some ephemeral project that will dissipate into Google’s core business as so many others have over the years — but in the Pixel smartphone as a concept.
Google was a very different company when it bought Motorola in 2012.
I agree with many things about Alex’s beautifully-written Editor’s Desk from a few weeks ago, but we divert in a couple of key matters — and I have the benefit of hindsight, so forgive me — when it comes to Google’s past and future. For starters, I firmly believe that Google didn’t buy Motorola primarily for its patents in 2012, nor did it “become a smartphone vendor by accident.” That lets Google off too easily, by allowing the company to reframe its enormous mistake in a way that, in retrospect, still makes sense. Yes, we lost a ton of money, but it was all about the patents anyway, so it was still a good deal for us.
Google definitely bought Motorola to become a smartphone vendor. It wanted to build Motorola into a