Presumably, with the Pixel line going head-to-head with the Galaxy S last year the situation has changed enough that Google no longer fears that Samsung will ditch Android. It's also worth noting that the rumour here is that Google will buy specific manufacturing and hardware assets from HTC, but will not buy the brand. So it's less of a "buying the company and keeping the parts they want" situation, and more of a "buy only the parts they want" situation.
Samsung's hardware today seems better, but for a long time the galaxy phones were cheap plastic builds with unwanted software customization on top. The few Motorola phones that came out during the Google ownership were nice.
If Google had built their own hardware back then (or had even gotten Nokia) I would probably have stayed on Android. For a long time starting around iPhone 5 the Apple hardware was a lot better (prior to that Apple lacked turn by turn navigation and LTE). The Nexus One was nice, but the S wasn't great and the Galaxy Nexus was terrible enough to switch.
Now Apple seems to be winning in security and new hardware features and everything else is fairly comparable.
Difficult? Yes. Very, very difficult.
Er, what? Let's see, what we're the dominant desktop OSes back in 1997? Windows and Mac. 20 years later? Still the same. Even 30 years ago it was DOS, the direct predecessor to Windows, and Mac.
In servers, various flavours of Unix have dominated for even longer. Arguably the dominant version at any one time was just the one that was closest to being a generic Unix as possible. Incompatible 'innovation' was punished mercilessly in the market.
The problem upstart OSes have to face is that encumbent OSes have established ecosystems of hardware and software support. Look at mobile. To compete with iOS you don't just have to compete with Apple, you have to compete with a $100bn+ ecosystem of apps, peripherals and services. Same with Android. Microsoft was just a few years behind them and it was too late even for them to break through with all their resources.
Unless Google or Apple do something monumentally stupid, they're going to stay dominant for decades to come.
Secondly, I think we're in agreement about the 'dominance for decades' thing. I should have said "Very, very hard ... and will take a long time."
Think of ITS, Symbolics, VMS, HPUX, Solaris, PalmOS, CP/M, OS/2 ... all once popular, now consigned to the dustbin.
The problem is that Google has the attention span of a hamster on crack. Instead of giving a new handset platform time to grow and mature, it'll jettison the whole project before it gets a chance to gain traction.
I'm sure there'd be some loss, but Samsung would likely come out doing fine. Even if they lost some market share, their profits would likely go up in the end, since they'd be the ones pulling the app market cuts and such.
And be pleasantly surprised when none of their Google apps transfer over? Good luck with that.
Samsung might lose a percentage of the SV customerbase, but everyone who’s not relying on Google accounts wouldn’t really notice.
We'll see if this is still a problem in a couple years.
They may have invested more into Tizen: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tizen
It's a 100x more plausible that they went in with optimism, and got snagged by something unanticipated. And what's more unanticipated yet powerful, than not a law, but a competitor with deep political and financial leverage in your company's markets? Those kind of power plays happen all the time in the advertiser and entertainment world.
I remember a lot of talk about Samsung's Tizen operating system around then, so the most plausible explanation to me was that Google bought Motorola specifically to keep Samsung inline with a more stock android, end results hold up to that as well.
Of course it's always hard to figure out cause and effect, but Google never even appeared to go all in with Motorola on hardware beyond the initial purchase... smelled like a ploy.
i think google made a mistake not turning moto into googles flagship hardware, similar to the surface/dell/hp/lenovo relationship. intel does the same thing with nucs.
Also, does anybody know what the Motorola acquisition and sale cost them? They kept pieces of it, so I can't tell right away how it worked out.
Both Moto and HTC were/are way past their prime and I personally think Google should just let it die and pick up distressed assets at bargain price when it goes belly up.
It'd be also interesting if Samsung would drop Android altogether and starts using MS mobile OS.
Doing that would mean that all the experience that could have been part of the deal will already be gone.
> We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community” and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.
They also were very careful to explain that they were _not_ buying Motorola in order to get into the hardware business:
> This acquisition will not change our commitment to run Android as an open platform. Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. We will run Motorola as a separate business. Many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing to work with all of them to deliver outstanding user experiences.
I doubt Google's reasons for acquiring HTC are the same in this case. If in fact this time they _are_ planning to use HTC to get into the hardware business (and that seems likely, given their efforts with the Pixel line recently) you should expect them to handle this acquisition in a completely different way from how they handled Motorola.
I don't see this as going anywhere.
You might want to correct it as Dropcam. For a moment, I was like when did this happen :)
Interestingly Google announced today that the Moto X4 will be the first Android One phone in the US , and it has Nexus like pricing ($399). Looks like it may be a Google Fi exclusive for now, though.
Worse, the non-Fi X4 which may or may not sell in the states has Amazon Alexa which may be difficult or impossible to disable or make work with Google Assistant.
That said, the Moto G5S is coming out soon which will have slightly better specs than the G5 Plus out today. It will be for sale at every Best Buy and phone store and will cost about the same as the X4. Not sure if there's big differentiation between the the X4 and the G5S.
(I've done this with a backup phone - both an iPhone 7 and a Moto E4 - when my Pixel was being RMAed)
Patents and/or other assets may have been exactly what they were referring to.
Smartphone market is in the state of business where manufacturing, R&D and brand marketing can be separated and mixed freely. Especially in the Android ecosystem.
I don't think this is accurate. Even phones that were released during Google's ownership didn't receive any updates (during Google's ownership or after). It seems like Google never intended to own it, they just scraped it for people and patents.
This is just my personal opinion with no more knowledge than anyone else, but this HTC acquisition looks different than Motorola. It has the hallmarks of an acqui-hire, and which implies Google may no longer be content to just sit by as a cornucopia of OEMs ship commodity HW using off the shelf stuff and small tweaks, as that's never going to pull the market forward like Apple can do with vertical integration.
If Andy Rubin can ship a mobile phone in just two years with ~100 employees, maybe Google could take a similar approach by funding a totally independent startup that's not burden by its culture yet has access to all of Google's resources.
Microsoft at the time was bragging about Android licensing revenues and basically using whatever they had, including non-practiced patents, to threaten Android OEMs into submission.
The $330M price is so low none of the HTC investors are going to make any money on it. HTC's mobile phone business has been unprofitable for years and Google won't make any money on it either.
Who knows maybe Google is planning on using the HTC business unit as a sort of an R&D lab for Android hardware, with no real plan on making it a traditionally profitable business.
HTC has everything Google needs for an in-house Pixel from soup to nuts and they're hurting for money. Its a happy coincidence HTC is collapsing right when Google is getting serious about launching its own branded flagship phones.
I also suspect aggressive moves like this mean that Samsung is probably going to pull the trigger on a full Tizen move and eventually stop producing android phones. The Pixel is aimed right at Galaxy buyers. I'm skeptical this is just a coincidence. The agreement that Nexus was kinda, sorta a developer's phone and will always be hobbled by mid-range camera, battery, and storage seems to have ended with the Pixel line.
I just received a Pixel after my 6P died and its about the closest to iPhone quality I've seen on an Android device. Its clearly a serious attempt by Google to have a proper branded flagship.
That seems to support my hypothesis about the R&D lab.
I also like how you framed something being good (only) for workers like a bad thing :)
It's just that usually M&A is only about money. Employees are just a cost item.
(A chinese-speaking friend of mine with excellent credentials and capabilities in OS quality graphical design was seriously low-balled when applying for a job there.)
According to Glassdoor:
Software Engineer: 20k USD/year
Senior Software Engineer: 24k USD/year
Principal Engineer: 29k USD/year
I get that it's not exactly Silicon Valley, but, wow.
Funnily enough they've now all left, to mainland China!
In short, it's cheap as hellllllll. Rent was like 270/month, food and fun was nothing, life is so so so good in Taiwan. I stress regularly about Chinese bluster regarding Taiwan, it is an incredible country I really believe is chock full of opportunity.
My journey to become a software engineer started there. Now that I've snuck my way into frontend, it's my goal as I get more experienced and senior to eventually move back there and start remote contracting or start my own business there. I'm still convinced I could get the best engineers in Taiwan to work for me by just paying them 50k flat out (they make like 20-30/year and are expected to work 9am-9pm, sometimes weekends, arbitrarily) and giving them reasonable (to an American) benefits.
Found this comment which I am going to blindly trust. ;) So, for reference, the HTC salaries were in the range of 50-70k NTD/month.
"90% of people working in Taipei make from 22-68k a month. College grads often make 22k a month out of College and those with a Master Degree start at 30,000NT a month. They spend about 5 years to make 40k a month. An Engineer might make 50k-75k a month. The only reason the Average is skewed to 70k is because Taipei has millionaires and billionaires that skew these numbers. It in NO WAY represents what the everyday working Taiwanese or Foreigner generally makes.
Min Wage 18,000
Factory Work 18,000-20,000
Typical Office Worker 22,000-40,000
Taxi Driver 60,000-70,000
Flight Attendant 50,000-60,000?
Foreign English Teacher 55,000-70,000
Foreigner Specialist with Foreign Income---150,000-300,000"
Anyway this is just hearsay of course, before anybody would believe any of this I would say let's get the census in or something.
Or is Taipei that expensive?
edit: saw the comment bellow
The problem now is that HTC has been sinking for so long that most of its famous engineers and personnel have long since jumped ship, so I'm not even sure Google will get much out of this acqui-hire. I would assume that none of this involves the Vive, as that seems too profitable right now for HTC to sell.
Don't get me wrong, if we got another HTC Google Play Edition phone using an HTC 10 successor (really don't like the U11, go back to the HTC One design template, please), that would be awesome. But I'm not holding my breath.
It seems to me that this current generation of VR is a niche that lacks any killer app and that any tangible improvement is very incertain
They also make all the peripheral and headset prerequisties and components, so when people compete on new peripherals or headsets, they still win.
Otherwise, I had long thought that this move by Google would be to bolster their manufacturing capabilities, less so a move to acqui-hire amazing engineers.
Then his successor, Jonah Becker, left about ten months after:
And finally, Google poached one of the lead engineers behind the Vive:
I have no clue if Daniel Hundt, seen here talking about the One M7 design, is still with HTC or not:
so 2 VPs, and a third that jumped ship...to Google...ok Admiral...salutes
Once Samsung started dropping $B on marketing it was unfortunately only a matter of time. Your average consumer doesn't do deep research and tends to just buy what's advertised heavily.
Source: Ex-HTC from '10 era.
Wonder if that deal came with a poison pill. I doubt Apple wants to be a counterparty to a mobile licensing deal with Google at this point.
I think OPs point was, even if HTC stops manufacturing Vive there will be Vive quality or better headsets that use Lighthouse tracking, which along with the upcoming knuckle controllers and vive trackers are the real competitive advantage Vive has over Rift or Microsoft MR headsets in PC VR.
Most likely its the only profitable part of HTC and is mostly safe from anything negative this acquisition might bring.
It seems to me that Google are intentionally sabotaging the success of their Pixel phone lineup. I would hate for the Nexus 6P to be my last Google phone.
Still, an open question is why would they feel the need to buy an exisiting company? Couldnt they simply recreate a hardware company from scratch with their resources? HTC is not exactly a world leader or some unique innovator here.
I doubt Google or any of these new age silicon valley companies have the attention span to do something like this.
It used to be. There was a time, not so long ago, where HTC Desire and others were the Android phones to have. Their engineers are great, you can't deny that.
HTC made the first Android phone (G1). They made the first 4.3" smartphone (Evo for Sprint). They made the first 4G (albeit WiMAX) phone sold in the United States (Evo again). Their newest phone the HTC U 11 is arguably one of the most aesthetically attractive personal computing devices in production today.
I use Apple products across the board, but there's no denying that HTC has some serious hardware chops.
The only piece they were missing was capacitive screens. With that they could have made history.
So in term of bigger goals it was not total failure. And now situation is different, patent wars are mostly gone. Google can use HTC hardware expertise quickly for newer devices. Also unlike last time Android/OS unit is far more integrated than Andy Rubin days, so better chance of success. I am thinking Google Fuschia OS project might also get hardware help from HTC acquisition.
They haven't sold it as anything but VR for now, but it could have AR capabilities. (And HTC has some sort of AR apps like Vive Paper for the standalone Vive, it has a camera).
I have an iPhone 6+ -- and it is 90% great. (some UX choices suck on a bigger device, I cant hit certain buttons when one-handing the device)
I really like the essential....
I hear good things about the Pixels.
I would only up to the iPhone X for water resistence...
They are all nearly $1K
(I worked in Intel's game developer relations lab in the 90s when they were trying to prove that a <$1k computer was even possible (Celeron's with SIMD)...
Now its like a phreaking phone is going to be hitting/pushing the ~$1K mark....
Should I get a new phone, and if so, of those three, which would be best?
Everything else is an also ran. You will always have some shitty problem that will ruin your experience. For example, camera with Sony, random Bluetooth glitches with pixel, generally shitty reliability from HTC and LG, weird sim card issues with Xiaomi, WiFi issues with OnePlus.
Both of them may seem a tad too expensive if you compare similar hardware from others, with Apple even more expensive than Samsung. But the extra money is there for a reason. It takes more money to deliver a good experience. It takes more money to develop your own chips and your own software.
I'm switching back from a Samsung Galaxy S8, which like the iPhone X has an OLED screen and doesn't feature a home button (Samsung is making the iPhone X's screen). Just too much time waiting for it to recognize me. It wasn't a lot, but enough to be annoying.
Just stick your finger round the back and you'll be happy.
Google bought Danger which got Android. Motorola was a failure yes. So not twice but once.
This could greatly enhance android and they can start selling SoC along with software. If not they are dependent on Qualcomm to catch up with apple.
>>> Google has already poached Apple's lead chip architect in June of this year.
No where has it been mentioned that the person they poached was Apple's "lead" chip architect. All it says is that google poached An architect from Apple to be it's SoC lead.
Even if it is true, with Google's pathological lack of focus, this could have already been abandoned though.
And if they tried to hire all 100 they'd probably be exposed to a lawsuit (plus they'd end spending a lot on bonuses and relocations anyways)
* First LTE phone in america (Thunderbolt)
* Dual front speakers (BoomSound)
* Low-MP camera (Ultrapixel)
* Unibody aluminum phone (One M7)
* Squeezable edges (U11)
* Glasses-free 3d display (Evo 3d)
HTC has always had really nice hardware on their phones and once in a while they get the software right too. While a lot of these innovations have failed in the market, in the right hands they could all be just what Google (or some other company) needs to get in front of this market.
First LTE phone: I'm not sure I see why this is "innovation" on its own; the LTE specs were known for years before LTE networks rolled out, and I don't think HTC made the low-level components that made it possible anyway (e.g., the filters). Not that it didn't require some new work, but I'm not sure the R&D dept. had to work hard on this one.
Low-MP camera: why is this important and/or innovative?
BoomSound: Is this really innovation? It didn't create much of a trend in the smartphone market, and it used off-the-shelf parts.
I don't know much about the 3d display unfortunately.
I should have been clearer with my comment though, and asked what they have done that have been impactful and clearly required a huge amount of expertise, i.e., things Google might be interested in.
As an example of something that might fit the sort of work I am thinking about is this: https://atap.google.com/soli/
To address what you mentioned:
* First LTE phone means they were ahead on hardware integration, testing, and price to get to market first.
* The Low-MP camera demonstrates that they saw the end of the highest-megapixel wars and the shift towards picture quality being subjective.
* BoomSound has certainly kicked off a trend, The iPhone 7 made a big deal (TV ads, etc) about its much louder dual speakers. Nobody before HTC cared about phone speakers.
Common methods to quote text blocks on HN are to use a > prefix and/or asterisks to italicize the quoted text.
So it's an elegant phone at a price a few hundred dollars cheaper than an iPhone with honestly a very similar feel all around. Unfortunately, though, I don't plan to buy a new version beyond what is currently available if they are vacuumed up by Google.
Instead they chose to compete head-on with the iPhone, and it's clear they're not doing too well at that.
And the arch folder in the Zircon repo seems to only have x86 and ARM at the moment. Perhaps they still need to pull a few changes over ;-)
Only 100 engineers? They are not planning on retaining HTC's phone unit any much functional.