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Google signs agreement with HTC (blog.google)
437 points by maguay on Sept 21, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 182 comments

Important bit:

> That’s why we’ve signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics, that will fuel even more product innovation in the years ahead. With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we're excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.

Please don't use code blocks for text quoting. They cause side scrolling which can be annoying in desktop browsers and nigh unreadable on mobile.

Common methods to quote text blocks on HN are to use a > prefix and/or asterisks to italicize the quoted text.

Edit: Thanks for updating!

Sorry - I used '>' first but instinctively changed it to a block since HN didn't actually format it any differently. (And I use a Chrome extension to restyle HN, so code blocks don't have the issues you described.)

I also find quoting on HN annoying when I need to do it. But it occurs to me that this may be (at least in part) a deliberate move to discourage quote-heavy styles of discussion, which are always tempting but would probably not be good for HN.

I'm thinking of this sort of thing, as found in the good ol' days on Usenet:

> > Sorry - I used '>' first

> You should have trusted your first instincts.

> > but instinctively changed it to a block

> So you tried the right thing and changed it to the wrong thing? What's wrong with you?

> > since HN didn't actually format it any differently.

> You didn't request any formatting and you're surprised HN didn't give you what you didn't ask for?

... and so on. (For the avoidance of doubt, the snarky tone of the above does not reflect my actual opinions. It's just what tends to happen in the comment-on-fragments kind of interaction, which is one reason why discouraging it here might be wise.)

> Sorry - I used '>' first but instinctively changed it to a block since HN didn't actually format it any differently.

Indeed HN has miserable quoting constructs. I prefer the italics with ">", but dedicated support would be nice.

What Chrome extension do you use?

It would be so much better if instead of these distracting comments HN made the simple style fix so that double space does a proper indent.

Yes, by the way it would be great if HN added a better way to quote text.

The "non-exclusive" bit is actually quite important here. This means anyone can get IP from HTC, and I am not sure if that's a good deal at all, if Samsung comes along to pour down couple billions. What isn't clear is whether Google will have access to the exclusive HTC intellectual property at all.

The way I read it the "non-exclusive" refers to the access, not to the IP: Google got a permanent license to use every IP HTC owns. HTC stays the owner and could strike similar deals with others or completely sell it in parts or whole, Google's ability to use those patents would be unaffected, as selling IP does not revoke existing licences. There is no mystery about some distinction between "exclusive IP" and "non-exclusive IP" (whatever that would mean).

It took me a few minutes, but I think I understand what GP is saying. Basically, they are speculating that though the press release only mentions "non-exclusive" access to some of HTC's IP, Google may have arranged "exclusive" access to a different set of HTC's IP. I think. Not really sure this makes any sense, because it's not covered in the article, and I don't see why Google wouldn't announce that was the case to make the deal appear to be better value.

That's what I meant. They have access, but what is really not clear is whether they have access to the exclusive IP. If they don't, they would have to strike for another agreement. This is not noted in this announcement, which makes perfect sense. This is a collaboration agreement more than anything else.

What exclusive IP? What's being discussed is "non-exclusive access" to IP. Meaning that Google/Alphabet can make use of that IP and HTC can still use it or license it to other companies.

You still don't get it. This does not mean Google has the whole IP. In simple terms, what Google gets is not the best deal if what they can access are also available to other competitors for a deal. Get it now? You usually want to have exclusive access, like certain songs are exclusively released on Spotify. Get it?

It means that Google can use it at all. Otherwise they would be unable to use it. Which is what they're concerned about. Previously, with other companies actually making the phones, they didn't have to worry about that kind of thing. Now that they're looking to do more of it themselves, they do.

Google doesn't give a damn if Samsung can come in and use the same IP and have similar features on their phones. Remember, Google just wants to improve the Android experience as a whole. If they use the HTC IP in a cool way, it's good for Google if Samsung does the same thing.

I am confused. What kind of things? Google's intention is not to improve Android. They know what features people want. What they want is to expand their business in consumer hardware. This could be useful for technology such as Google hlr Glass. Whatever they can scrape together. The real only exclusive deal right now is they have a bunch of HTC engineers working at Google.

I do not understand how so many still don't get why I brought up this exclusive vs non-exclusive deal. The best deal one can get is exclusive rights. The unknown here is we don't know whether Google's agreement includes (NDA) any exclusive IP.

Google's intention is to improve Android, because that's how they make their money: People using Android, and sending their data to Google so Google can sell ads. Google doesn't make their money selling consumer hardware; that's more of a side business, and is really there to push Android forward, so more people use Android, so more data gets slurped up by Google.

They don't need to improve Android that way. Google already know how to push Android forward through marketing research. Even though $1 billion dollar is a penny to Google, they didn't have to go through all that trouble if they want to "improve Android." You have look at the diverse investment Google has made. They want to try new things by looking at IP and acquiring talents. That's all the agreement is all about. Google business team isn't a group of third-graders.

The Motorola acquisition was both desire to exercise the IP and as a mean to defend patent wars. But people thought they were all about making new phones (which can always make more money and more ad money). In the end engineers got transferred to other teams within Google.

Of course they want to move into consumer hardware for the exact reason you listed: sell more ads. They got certain group of engineers so they can work on projects Google either haven't revealed or improving existing hardware projects, most of the code will remain proprietary. You don't see most of the Google Home code in open source Android codebase, except whatever Google believes are valuable for the community.

There is no altruism here. Otherwise there would not be any patents and any licenses except "no license" license. I suggest those downvoted me please think about why software companies want to move into consumer products in the end. Why is FB building hardware? Why Kindle in the first place? Why Google Home or Amazon Echo? Read up various highly regarded analysts' reviews on new sites. Those people do better analysis than I do here.

You seem to be confused... your words mean something other than what you think they mean.

You wrote that Google does not have the "whole IP". You are saying that there is something that Google doesn't have access to?

If Google has non-exclusive rights to all of HTC's IP, then they do have the whole IP. They just aren't the only company with the whole IP.

I think the language you are using isn't very clear, and this post comes across as quite patronizing.

Random things that strike me about this deal:

- HTC's stock price has been going down for the past 5 years, and EPS was down sharply recently. Does this make HTC more or less viable on its own going forward?

- Apple finally made a VR push with the upcoming macOS High Sierra and iMac Pro—along with the HTC Vive. Google didn't fully acquire HTC here, and HTC's trajectory was already tied to Android, but still seems an interesting wrinkle there.

- Samsung continues to hedge their bets, most recently with Bixby. Really wonder if Google's continued hardware investment will make them seek more of their own path.

- Why would Google acquire just a team from HTC? Seems like the oddest of acquihires yet.

> Why would Google acquire just a team from HTC?

IIRC, The license agreement[1] between HTC and APPLE will be voided if HTC is acquired by another company, maybe this strategy can avoid this situation.

[1] https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2012/11/11HTC-and-Apple-Settl...

From the link

>The terms of the settlement are confidential

Anything you know that we don't? Usually licenses stay valid after a company is acquired.

Some news during that time said about this, this may be the original source:


> In the event of a Change of Control of a party, this Agreement shall automatically terminate unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Parties, effective immediately prior to such Change of Control.

Sure, HTC had a couple of seminal 4G patents that forced Apple to cross-license back in 2012, but I'm not sure if such legal protection is of any use for Google today. Most of Apple's utility and design patents asserted against HTC and cross-licensed were found to be invalid or not infringed during Samsung trial. Further, unlike Samsung, Google is less likely to suffer from the jury bias that Samsung did, even if they end up in court for patent infringement. There is really nothing to fear. In any case, I don't think Google is doing this to acquire patents.

But not always. If someone were to acquire AMD wouldn’t they lose access to the Intel patents because of the way that deal was structured?

But wouldn't the potential AMD buyer have option to void deal for amd64 then? Serious question.

Depends on what the contract says. I'm guessing no because the Intel lawyers are not incompetent.

But neither are the AMD lawyers.

Except they got the license back in the distant past before anyone had any idea it would be so valuable.

and Apple is going to sit back and say "Oh Wow- Didn't see that coming"?. Don't bet on it- Apple will claim violation of their agreement.

If the letter of the agreement isn't violated then it isn't violated. Apple can't just retroactively rewrite it.

Of course depending on how it's written it is possible there could be some room for interpretation, which would likely end up being litigated, but I suspect these huge companies have teams of lawyers that are pretty careful about that kind of thing.

With the amount of money Apple has, they can, in practical terms.

As a negotiating tactic, if they really want and need to retroactively rewrite the contract they can say 'This is going to happen. You can agree, or we can spend money to destroy you legally and/or otherwise'. It depends on how badly they need to change the thing, but the amount of abstracted power they've got should they choose to wield it is enormous. At that point it becomes a game of personalities: does the CEO want to go to the mat on this one? Will the board go along? Bear in mind that shows of strength and ruthlessness will help the stock price, because those evaluating Apple for what it's worth are only interested in ruthlessness and power.

I think it's very silly to consider that laws mean anything anymore. In practice, only money matters. (in fact I don't approve of this, but that's my evaluation of how things stand, and how we got here)

Apple has to push something new (but iOS apps with AR were there as late as around 2011) and major "next big thing" to play catching up. Apple as a creature is done. It is just following the phenomenon momentum founded by Jobs to maximize profit. Once the day it goes past the max profit tipping point, what is real will show up. Money is the quantitive fact that few would go against, once this fact changes, opinions will soon emerge. My personal thoughts.

Apple will bring out iVision or something like HoloLense/Google Glasses. Same story as like the iPod.

Hopefully so.

Apple under Jobs showed polished deliverables to customers. Without him, Apple demoed prototypes more, talked about plans and fields they worked on more and tried to pumped up confidence by giving out information more. It's been like this for a few years. Not a short time in the tech world.

They did regroup and formed a new foundation that is quite strong. Positioning at product and service for privacy alone has no competitors in the near future. And they have everything needed to make customers believe in them (on the other hand, do customers really have other quality and trustworthy alternatives?).

The best product after Jobs from Apple, to me, is AirPods. That's the only product makes me amazed and satisfied.

I'm actually a big fan of Apple's approach on making product and an iOS developer myself.

I really really had hoped that somehow, magically, Jobs' death wouldn't hurt Apple's trajectory, but things don't seem to be playing out that way.

Right. They only managed a pathetic trippling in market cap since he died and have only dominated a single new industry (they're now the biggest watch company in the world by revenue, just from watches). How disappointing.

Wasn't talking about financial trajectory.

Ok, what then, Technology? None of the other handset makers are even close. 3D face recognition, computational photography, augmented reality, health, CPUs, security, privacy,display and build quality, App ecosystem. They're ahead of the pack across the board. The new multitasking, drag-and-drop and inter-app communications stuff in iOS 11 is so far ahead of Android it's almost cheating.

Yeah, why would HTC agree to something like this? Sounds like Google got a hell of a deal getting to pick which engineers and IP they want without having to buy the whole company.

Build a local team that a foreign project customer would have trouble hiring directly (due to being foreign), let the team prove itself on the project, hand them over for a massive fee. As long as the project/team customer is willing to pay good money for this it is perfectly fine business.

One time payment instead of continuous revenue from future projects. The difference is that the one time is money in the bank, whereas future project work is merely a possibility that might fail to realize. In the end it is a question of the right price and I get the impression that this one has been very generous (even after discounting for the IP.

If they think that division is doomed and this is more money than it would be worth if they kept it they might do it.

Or if they think EVERYTHING is doomed and they’re just hoping to get anything that might help save them.

So this is like an acqui-hire except that the employees don't see any benefit from it except that they are now Google employees?

Meanwhile, HTC Executives pocket a huge wad of cash? Great.

Isn't that any acqui-hire? The people who do the work are traded like cattle and usually don't get anything out of it. Worse, sometimes they did have equity in the company, but that's now traded for equity in the new company, but with a reset on the vesting time period.

Not if you just say no to startup equity offers for less than 1% of the company, but sadly there's one born every millisecond...


Disagree. We all have choices. But it's easy to convince yourself otherwise.

If you're getting less than 1%, you'll get a better ROI working for the bigCo of your choosing. Suggesting otherwise is disingenuous.



Ai yai yai. Please please don't go back to commenting in this spirit. We ban accounts—we have to ban accounts—that do this. (I left yours unpenalized the last time we had an exchange like this, because it seemed you were commenting in good faith, and I still think that.)

All: we recently updated https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html, so now would be a good time for a refresher.

I am sorry. But I do also feel that refusing to believe that not everyone has that level of bargaining power is also quite uncivil.

So what you're saying is that some people accept poor startup offers because they want to work for a startup so badly that the opportunity to do so outweighs the bad risk they are taking? How is that anyone's fault except their own?

In my opinion that kind of person is in serious need of a moment of clarity. And refusing to acknowledge that there are people in the world that see things differently is quite uncivil IMO.

When I was younger, I took several craptastic startup offers because of the allure of working for a startup. Not one of them panned out. But I also turned down offers from Autodesk and Nvidia at a time when accepting would have made me worth 50 to 100 million dollars today. Feeling loyal to those craptastic startups and also feeling somewhat that I had no other options were part of why I made those bad calls. Don't be former me.

I am confused. What point do you think I am trying to make?

I thought my point was that startups are usually a bad risk for less than 1% of the equity pie when compared to the other major option of working for an established tech company with a stable income and work/life balance.

Are you saying some people have no other choice in life except to take a craptastic gig at a horrible startup for 0.1% or less of the equity?

And by disagreeing, I am somehow some sort of sociopath?

Very few individuals. I'm sure if these people formed some kind of group and bargained as a collective they could threaten to walk out if they didn't get any benefit.

But that's considered crazy talk in our industry.

If Google is interested in acquiring the engineering talent of these at will employees, that seems like a strong signal that they're worth a lot more than they think, no?

At the very least, they should negotiate directly with Google to sweeten their deal, preferably with at least one counteroffer for their talent. On the other hand, if Google is making a better offer than all other comers, then they should just take it. If you don't at least attempt to negotiate, I can almost guarantee you're leaving something on the table.

Good. You discovered a bit on how businesses work. In this case it ended little beneficial to many employees as instead of being laid off due to HTC downsizing or shutdown, they get to work for Google.

You say that like there's a surfeit of talent in tech. That's not the case in my experience. I do think there is an oversupply of fungibles though and companies seem to be adapting to that.

Perhaps the business unit wasn't doing well and the alternative may have been lost jobs?

TL;DR, Google doesn't acquire HTC, they bought a team.

From the other side of the coin, HTC sold their "seed corn[1]." Without their (premier?) phone development team, did they sell off their path to regaining phone market share?

[1] http://www.thefreedictionary.com/To+eat+the+seed+corn

So confused. So in essence, Google bought a team from HTC?

Yeah, from announcement of HTC to Taiwan's stock exchange,

Google buys HTC's Pixel team, license to HTC's IP, and a RF lab (Subsidiary of HTC) for 1.1 billion USD.

Someone has made a terrible deal, and the other an awesome deal. But we will only be certain in one year.

It is impossible something like this be good to both, losing 100 people that have worked on the best project that the company has worked in the last years.

Or overpaid for just some people that are not soo great, as they thought.

Best? The Pixel is good, but it's hardly the best thing HTC has done.

HTC still has the Vive team.

This should be the title of the post.

Where is the RF Lab announcement?

From HTC's announcement to Taiwan's stock exchange, in Chinese only[1]

> 本公司董事會決議通過出售世界通全球驗證股份有限公司100%股權予Google

The company is named 世界通全球驗證股份有限公司 (communication global certification inc), website[2].

[1] http://news.cnyes.com/news/id/3923532

[2] http://www.cgctw.com/CGCWebsite/

A simple Google search failed me, maybe I don't know what I am looking for, but now I am at the mercy of the internet when I ask...

What is a RF Lab?

It's a Lab for Testing about radio, something like TRP, TIS, LTE OTA test and so on.

I would guess RF = radio frequency, so a lab dealing with cellular chips

The bigger thing is the IP acquisition. That's largely why they grabbed Moto and then spun it out. With this they can skip the middle step.

Are we sure they actually get the IP?

> The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property

From the blog post, seems to be a license.

It seems there is a little different.

In the press release of HTC[1]

> Google will continue to have access to HTC’s IP to support the Pixel smartphone family

Is it means HTC only licenses IP to Google, not sells them to Google?


"It’s still early days for Google’s hardware business."

Why no mention of Motorola in 2011? Google bought it for $12.5B, and sold it 2014 for $3B.

I think it would have made the blog post better to give some explanation for why Things Are Different This Time.

The way this worked out was that Google spent $12.5B, but they got:

Cash: $3B

Tax Credits: $1B

Sale of Motorola Home: $2.4B

Sale of Motorola Mobility: $2.9B


Total: $9.3B

So Google ended up paying about $3.2B for Motorola's patent portfolio, which was valued at $5.5B.


you can make the math look okay as long as you ignore the $200-500M per quarter in losses that google swallowed for the 2.5 years that they owned motorola.

Which would make the deal about break even, depending on whether that was more like $1B or $2B lost each year.

At the same time, what was the alternative? If you wanted Motorola type patents... you can't just buy them off a shelf.

There's a limited supply, and only some of them are ever for sale.

It's almost as if the people running Google are not idiots.

That's a stupid thing to say. People running large companies can be idiots. Look at Microsoft's Nokia deal.

There’s a difference between being an idiot and losing a bet, right?

Yes, but everyone thought it was mad at the time.

I wouldn't say that everyone thought that. I frequently said things about the foolishness of that bet only to be shouted down on internet forums.

Steve Ballmer strikes me as an idiot.

He doesn't run google.

Gates thought he was sharp. Do you think Gates can't tell the difference?

Quite so, and the cost of Moto also does not include the management distraction of doubling headcount and diluting company culture during the period where Google owned Moto.

You can look at the HTC deal as the learnings from the Moto deal: Buy only what you need, spend no time, money, or attention on things you will need to get rid of.

From business perspective, people should also calculate cost allocation to opportunity winning market and risk being sued by competitor

Google bought Motorola patents that came with hardware businesses attached for defense purposes, not because they wanted in on the hardware business. This was after they found themselves unarmed during a thermonuclear patent war.

Google dropped the hardware businesses and kept the patents. The patent market was notably frothy at the time, and conventional wisdom then valued Motorola's patent chest at $4.0-4.5 billion (Apple + MS consortium bought the comparable Nortel trove for a price in that ballpark). If that value is correct, then Google made a profit on buying and selling Motorola (patents + Moto Home + Moto Mobile).

Another point to consider is that Motorola has become a very healthy and popular phone brand. Especially with their inexpensive stock Android phones. Google must benefit from this as well.

but it's owned by Lenovo now, so Google is not profiting from that? Or is that not what you mean?

Good phones running almost stock Android are useful from a marketing PoV for both positive (as a showcase for the OS) and negative (good devices that aren't running iOS/Windows/other) reasons.

Their adoption helps increase the market share of the OS so makes creating content for them (apps in the Play store, and so forth) more attractive again indirectly helping because all Android devices potentially benefit from that.

So not a profit in any easily measured $ terms, but definitely a benefit.

You can benefit from it without profiting directly. I think Google benefits from Android adoption as a whole since that usually means adoption of Google services

Some user here (seems I'm not able to find him/her) on HN mentioned that they also feared that Samsung would be switching to their own thing, dropping Android and that may have been a factor in their decision to sell Motorola as they really want to keep everyone in the Android boat.

Made sense to me, at least.

Typical forced intention after fact.

To say Google not interested in hardware when they purchased Motorola is plain baseless.

It's not really 'after the fact' if that's been the popular opinion since before the deal in 2011 though

From the blog post announcing they bought Motorola:

> 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.


That is what all the coverage at the time pointed out.

They missed out on the Nortel patent portfolio earlier that year I think.

Coverage at the time, and since, in the apple-centric web focused on how Google tried to compete in hardware with Apple and failed and how they "lost" billions on the deal.

So that may be where this confusion arises.

> not because they wanted in on the hardware business

I don't think that's true, see Project Ara [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Ara

I'm sure the hardware was a bonus but at the time the purchase was primarily driven by the patents. Apple, Microsoft, Oracle , Cisco, and all the other big players have shed loads of patents for just about everything and uses them as counter measures against any potential litigation. Google at the time was lacking in such patents and was vulnerable. Motorola presented an opportunity with it's extensive cache of patents to level the playing field.

Google also kept the experimental team (I don't remember its name) from Moto.

So two things. The title is LITERALLY: "Google signs agreement with HTC, continuing our big bet on hardware" - notice the continuing. The guy writing the blog post came from Motorola... so I don't think he's trying to hide it.

As others have mentioned, Motorola was 90% about the patents because they were fighting trench warfare with Apple AND Microsoft at the time. And 10% about having some say over a premium phone that wasn't full of garbage overlays. They were at war with Samsung over Touchwiz and Tizen at the time. So ya... it was 100% a strategic move, and exactly why the bailed as soon as humanly possible.

> I think it would have made the blog post better to give some explanation for why Things Are Different This Time.

When they bought Motorola it was for patents, they absorbed the patents but kept the remainder of the business separate from Google. Eventually breaking it apart and selling it off.

This announcement doesn't sound like they are acquiring then entirety of HTC but rather a team within HTC. And that the team is joining Google, not remaining a separate entity.

So things are different because they're acquiring a part of HTC and folding it into their organization for the explicit purpose of furthering their hardware pursuits. Not just buying up the whole company for it's patents and selling off the remainder.

They also sold Motorola Home for $2.35B.


All this explanation is great - as I said it would have improved the blog post to include some of that. I'm not arguing that it's not actually different this time. But I think they should have made the case in the blog post.

It might have improved understanding of some historical tidbits at the cost of distracting from today's story. Corporate blogs are still PR venues first and foremost, aimed at investors and the media.

Investors already know how the moto deal turned out (or are willing to look into it themselves to check the numbers). The media needs soundbites.

From my understanding that was specifically for the gigantic patent portfolio and little interest in the hardware. Hence the immediate spinoff.

Was that not a patent grab? I always thought that was the main premise.

I think they are referring to Google's hardware business as in the internal hardware unit within Google. While it's true that Google bought Motorola, Motorola employees didn't become Google employees as far as I know?

In this case though I think the HTC division will operate within Google as opposed to a separate entity like Motorola remained.

It's a blog post from google.com, expect it to be biased.

Don't forget Microsoft and Nokia! The only explanation is patents.

Is it? Nokia (yes, the company still exists, it has just left the consumer market) kept quite many patents and I think there licensing is profitable (I don't remember the exact conditions) For which phones Microsoft would have needed patents? They had no phones before they bought Nokia.

The Nokia deal was botched/didn’t make sense even with patents.

HTC's press release raises even more questions -- they claim they will continue to develop the next flagship phone?

> HTC will continue to have best-in-class engineering talent, which is currently working on the next flagship phone, following the successful launch of the HTC U11 earlier this year. HTC will also continue to build the virtual reality ecosystem to grow its VIVE business, while investing in other next-generation technologies, including the Internet of Things, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.


I read it as:

HTC will continue to develop HTC's next flagship phone.

Google will continue to use the HTC Pixel team they just brought to develop Google's next Pixel flagship phone.

I think this is great for HTC, HTC is really good on hardware, and are only really struggling with marketing their phones, partnering with Google is almost a no brainer

But Google is not good at marketing either :/

Google's strategy is to make something so good that they don't need to market it. This harkens back to when Google won search. I think they've done alright with this strategy, whereas whenever they try to 'go mainstream' with glitzy marketing and big vision (thinking of Google+ here) they usually botch it bigtime.

I'm very excited about google's future plans. Anyone else feel like this is their path towards competing with apple and samsung in the long run?

As long as you don't give a fuck to your privacy you should be very excited.

So, a billion dollars for about a 100 engineers.

According to CEO of HTC (Live on TV),it's not just 100 but 2000 employees.

Sources(Eng): https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2017-09-21/htc-mes...

Not just 100 engineers, but also a non-exclusive license on HTC patents. Not knowing the terms of the license it's hard to value, but I would suspect it's a significant chunk of the $1B.

$10 million each. Google might think that is an ok deal for the right people. Google market cap ($650 billion) divided by number of engineers (~40k) is $16 million.

>Peter Shen, HTC’s chief financial officer, said that HTC would still employ more than 2,000 research and design staffers after the deal is done, down from around 4,000, according to the New York Times. That makes today’s announcement more of an acquihire of talent than a traditional acquisition of resources.

A lot cheaper than Instagram.

Or whatsapp. But then those were complete acquisitions

Google has desperately needed its own hardware for several years now.

This is especially apparent this year. Just to name a few things:

- Apple is much later to the AR game than Google, yet can push AR to ~200 million devices at the push of a button. Google has had Tango for a while now, and can only push it to a very small number of phones (compared to Apple's)

- A11 bionic chip is so far ahead, it's not even funny anymore, and is married to all other parts of the hardware and software. Google has nothing that's even close to this.

- "Kinect-in-a-phone" sensor strip of iPhone X. Even if Google has the know-how, it can never provide the same features, because they don't have their own hardware.

"Owning the stack: The legal war to control the smartphone platform" by Arstechnica remains as relevant as ever, https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/09/owning-the-stack...

Google's fundamental need is a coherent and competitive OEM ecosystem. It so happens that making hardware, like Microsoft makes Surface products, is one way to help that along. It used to be accepted wisdom that when a platform provider competes with their ecosystem partners, that's a bad thing. Now it's "complicated."

For example, let's suppose Android One takes off and all the cheaper-tier OEMs let Google handle the OS updates, and let's suppose that lights a fire under Samsung and other upper-tier OEMs to provide more-timely updates for longer. Does Google still need to make 3% of the hardware market share?

> Google's fundamental need is a coherent and competitive OEM ecosystem.

Nope, it doesn't. Because it means it has no means to control OS distribution, updates, and hardware improvements. Google is now entirely dependent on OEMs to deliver Google's software.

Let's say, Google comes up with a great new idea. A true competitor to Apple's AR (well, Google had it a year and half ago), Face ID, camera tech etc. Right now it may take anywhere from a year to five years to get this into the hands of consumers.

The only way to get anything coherent out of the Android ecosystem is to either impose extremely tight controls on major OEMs (Samsung will definitely not agree to that), or become an OEM.

They are working on it. Currently several OEMs including Moto, Xiaomi, and Sharp are making AndroidOne phones. Project Treble further streamlines both AndroidOne and every OEM's porting.

Absorbing significant market share from OEM partners isn't going to happen on the basis of a another couple of Pixel phones. It may come from rationalizing the platforms and porting requirements for Android.

> They are working on it.

The've been working on it for several years now. The result? Nothing is really happening.

Let's take AR as an example. Google had Tango ~1.5 years before Apple announced their AR. Tango had rationalisation and platform requirements for Android devices.

End result?

- Tango was moving nowhere. There were ~0 devices supporting it.

- Apple announces AR. It will be immediately available on ~200 million devices within a few months of iOS 11's release

- Google scrambles to remove some of the requirements from Tango and launch it ... for the two top devices on the market only. Running Nougat and up. That is, ~14% of ~10% of the Android market.

And the same goes for any other initiative that Google may have in the Android space.

No one else hears this and thinks vertically integrated monopoly? What if Google advantages their own hardware over competitors, which in turn will decrease market competition and hurt consumers

You mean, do what Apple does, what Samsung tried with Tizen, and what pretty much everyone has done for mobiles outside Android / Windows mobile ?

Even if it's common practice, it's still worth asking whether it's good for customers.

Given how horrible non-(Nexus|Pixel) phones have been, I'd consider this to be better in practice. I agree with you that in an ideal world, other Android device makers would be on a level playing field and not do a shit job.

I was really hoping they would at least take the HTC distribution and servicing channels to sell pixel phones more widely instead of just a few countries like currently.

I'm not seeing anything on the blog that says the will or won't do that. So, I guess you can keep hoping, for now at least.

Edit: specifically, I don't see anything that indicates they won't distribute it more widely. Sorry for being unclear.

OT, but but I find really irksome Veep-type blog posts that jump indistinguishably between what 'I' did and what 'we' or 'our team' did, as if there's no difference.

So is this an acquisition or a recruitment drive?

Much like acquisition.

From some local rumor (maybe from HTC's Taiwan employee, but not confirmed yet), Google won't acquire all team member, they want RD mostly, not the management people.

And google will have a internal interview for those RD to decide who can stay, then sign a two year work contract with them. so that's some different compare to other google employee.

More leak from HTC's internal mail to Pixel team:


Rick Osterloh will come to Taiwan for detailing the next step to them.

doesn't HTC also have a US R&D division (most likely they do to work with North American carriers and Qualcomm).

Do you know what's happening to them?

No news about them currently.

The mail only says he will go to HTC's Taoyuan and Taipei office today. and almost all announcements specified the "Pixel team".

Maybe the team is located at the two office only.

I believe HTCs R&D lab in Seattle is all Vive, so, likely unaffected.

When any company gets large enough they become a repository of technical failures and an acquirer of the same.

Unfortunately that ultimately matters little to stock value and market share.

I think Google wants the VR (HTV Vive) team.

That's precisely wrong. VR is one of the business units that google isn't getting any part of.

It'd be great to have a trilateral collaboration between Valve, Google, and HTC on that. Google would have the mobile platform stake, Valve the high end stake, and HTC the hardware stake.

However, they bought an RF lab from HTC, so it's probably a mobile product, not the VR product.

The notion of such a collaboration sounds interesting. For most industries, it would healthier for consumers in the long run if the major stakeholders competed, rather than collaborated, at this early stage. But in the short term, it means framework fragmentation, publishing pains for indie app developers as the big guns vie for exclusive contracts. Not to mention potentially delaying technological progress in the space, what with all the R&D occurring within isolated silos keeping their trade secrets close to the vest.

> For most industries, it would healthier for consumers in the long run if the major stakeholders competed, rather than collaborated, at this early stage.

For what it's worth, I figure they have lots of competition in terms of Samsung, Oculus, and Microsoft.

Yup, that's what it seems like. Which means I was probably wrong. I believed, when announced, that they were interested in the VR hardware department.

Well, more like I hoped it would be the goal. I'd love good AR, which I see as being similar enough to VR. I also want it tied to some sort of big data along with ease of discoverability.

I'd like to be riding down the road, see a bridge, be able to identify the bridge, be able to see when it was constructed, be able to see the plans and capacity limits, see who did the construction, see if there were accidents during construction, and things like that. I'd like the same for buildings, airplanes, cars, etc...

So, Google married with VR would be a potential start to something I'd really like to see. Alas, I was wrong. I'm a bit disappointed, but not really surprised.

Since we already have a fairly decent platform between Valve and HTC, what exactly can Google bring to the table?

Personally, I would prefer Google stay out of it.

Half Life 3 confirmed!

No. They have no need for the VR team at all.

What they really need is their own smartphone hardware team.

ads money will feed engineers - good news

I did a literal spit take when I saw this. Are they doing this for phone production or for the Vive/VR?

It sounds like the HTC Pixel Team, minus the management people.

Didn't quite work out for them last time… why will this be any different than Motorola?

For all the reasons: Did not double Google's headcount, did not cost over $10B, did not distract management, did not make Samsung queasy...

Good news for HTC

Is it me or do you also see another Motorola in making?

Good win-win.

more acquisitions

another nexus 7

god, i hope so.

You might want to make the last line "o god, i hope so" or "god, i do hope so" or "god, i hope it is" if you were aiming for five syllables there.

[EDITED to add:] Hmm, no, the last of those doesn't work. Maybe "god, I hope there is".

thanks. no more drunk haikuing for me

I don't think Google cares about tablets anymore.

But I would love to see an updated nexus 7!

Guaranteed in the top 10 on Google's internal Memegen: "WTF are you doing cat" gif.

Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion and sold it at a discount...Google just doesn't get user experience. Google bought so many user experience startups and yet they have nothing to show after so many years...

While I have complaints about Google, UX isn't one of them. I can't think of a Google product that is really all that unintuitive, undiscoverable, or difficult to use.

Am I missing something? I guess it can be rather subjective, but I don't have any complaints about UX or UI.

I should add that I've been told I'm too forgiving of bad design, so this is a legitimate question. I really don't see anything wrong with the UX from any of their products that are in common use.

I did have occasion to use one of their search appliances and the UX wasn't bad, but the results were pretty terrible. Terrible results might qualify as bad UX, I guess?

>While I have complaints about Google, UX isn't one of them. I can't think of a Google product that is really all that unintuitive, undiscoverable, or difficult to use.

>Am I missing something? I guess it can be rather subjective, but I don't have any complaints about UX or UI.

For me search is about everything Google got right. I use Google Cloud and I can tell you, everything is buried somewhere and change without notification. Even something simple as billing, I have to search Google to find it. Same with G Suite. Something as simple as the admin interface is impossible to find. I never got G+ and don't see why they haven't killed it. People put up with gmail because there is nothing better. Try to change your profile picture. Android apps look terrible compared to ios and I have apps notifications I never knew existed and can't even tell where they're located. So many I can't list here.

> While I have complaints about Google, UX isn't one of them. I can't think of a Google product that is really all that unintuitive, undiscoverable, or difficult to use.

> Am I missing something? I guess it can be rather subjective, but I don't have any complaints about UX or UI.

At least for me, Google+ has long been a miserable experience. Facebook, with its faults and quirks, is still better in intuitiveness and UX (again, for me).

Another area is GSuite - it's been painful and confusing to understand and enable features for a personal account. The documentation is grossly inadequate (I did provide feedback) and doesn't explain what regional or other rollout differences that exist in the suite.

Try showing a senior how to use Gmail versus how to use Comcast or AOL. You'd be surprised how well the current generation of tech savvy folks are trained on Google's UI patterns... and how little sense they make for everyone else.

I've worked with a lot of seniors with home computer help, and Google software is practically a non-starter.

I am 59. I'm not sure that qualifies as senior, probably not.

As I said in my post, I may just be unable to see it. To me, it seems pretty straight forward. I can't think of a Google product where I had a bad user experience or found the user interface to be bad.

From YouTube to G+, I've not had any complaints about UX. certainly none worse than other services. They seem much like any other modern software. I'm absolutely not a savant, I can't even use GIMP or Blender.

Maybe it's just me?

I guess "senior" may be a poor choice of words here. The users I am speaking of are not just from outside of the generation that has grown up with computers in the home, but are not of the technical crowd. Suffice to say none of the people I provide support to are the sort to browse HN!

In reading your other replies, I kind of get what you're saying. Though, I'm not sure their icons are worse than any others? Whenever I find an icon that makes no sense, I click on it and find out what it does. Well, sometimes hovering over it will work.

That might be it, actually. I first touched a computer in the early 1970s. I'm not worried about breaking things, so I'll click buttons and see what they do.

I'm not sure that Google is worse than any other offender, though. Again, it is probably subjective.

If I had one complaint, it would be that I'm partially colorblind and this makes it difficult to differentiate certain things. Google isn't the worst offender but I guess that's a complaint that I have. I'm not sure if that is UI or UX?

I do wish they had a high-contrast option. I could probably make something but I just work around it.

Either way, thanks. This has been very informative.

What in particular?

My wife is happy enough with it. Sometimes, I hear her complaining about Gmail, that she can't add attachments. But otherwise, it seems to work for her.

We're both seniors, by the way :)

Google seems to want to frequently re-invent common idioms willy-nilly.

They've had several iterations of email client for Android, from the AOSP client to Gmail to Inbox. I don't want a learning curve, just a mail client. (K-9 or Outlook for Android, cheers)

They've also had numerous goes at creating a sms/xmpp/talk/video app. Google Talk/Allo/Duo/Hangouts, it's all a confusing mess.

The two biggest issues I come across regularly is icons people don't understand the meaning of, and the fact that the UI changes frequently. I've found a lot of the people I work with learn how to do things, and then expect them to remain that way. Moving a button over two inches or putting it in a menu will send people calling me to come back because they don't know how to do something.

I have a lot of people literally ask me to repeat a process several times so they can write each step in doing things like attaching a file or forwarding an email down on paper. So when a button gets renamed or moved or even just has an icon instead of text, it throws people.

Thanks. I'll ask her about the icons issue. But she uses an Android phone, so enigmatic icons aren't unusual for her.

She does have that habit about writing each step, though. It frustrates me when I'm showing her how to do stuff. But it's not a new thing for her.

Anecdotal, but my 90 year old father uses a chromebook and gmail very successfully.

I'd go so far as to say chromebooks are ideal for seniors, because there is very little they can screw up.

> Google software is practically a non-starter

And what was chosen instead that had a significantly easier uptake for "seniors" ?

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