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HTC will still make smartphones despite Google’s US$1.1 billion “buyout”

It was a nail-biting time for HTC fans as news broke yesterday that the company had suspended the trading of their shares pending a major announcement. Many speculated that this was the long rumoured “Google buyout” of HTC’s smartphone business which would lead to the company never making a new smartphone again.

Today, the deal has been finalised and while Google is going to spend USD1.1 billion on HTC, it’s not quite the buyout people had speculated.

Google SVP of Hardware Rick Osterloh said, in a blog post, that they had “signed an agreement with HTC” where “a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organisation”. In other words, Google is buying the best and brightest from HTC’s smartphone business to work on their own hardware products. Rick also writes that the deal will include a non-exclusive license for HTC’s intellectual property. This arrangement is expected to be completed early next year.

So, while it’s not a complete buyout, Google is purchasing what looks like a significant chunk of HTC’s smartphone business which seems to hint at the fact that HTC won’t be making phones anymore. But, as The Verge reports, HTC’s CEO Cher Wang says that they will “continue onward with its own smartphone business” despite losing a big portion of their talent.

Verge also reports that HTC is already actively preparing for its next flagship smartphone, which means HTC-branded handsets are here to stay, at least for the time being.

Will they be any good? We can’t say for sure.

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While the HTC U11 was definitely a good device, the company has had plenty of misses in the past. Stuff like the HTC One M8 and HTC U Ultra, for example, didn’t go down well with the public. The company was once the fourth largest smartphone maker with a market share of 9% but today that figure is now less than 1%.

Still, it’s hard to deny the innovations HTC has brought to the Android smartphone world, especially with their big hits. They launched the first Android smartphone ever — the HTC Dream — and also worked with Google on the first Nexus smartphone the Nexus One. More recently the company showed the world how to make a proper all-metal smartphone with the HTC One M7 and pioneered the concept of front-facing smartphone speakers with their excellent BoomSound technology.

Of their last three flagship releases (HTC 10, HTC U Ultra, HTC U11) two of them have been received very well. But, despite these solid flagship smartphone offerings, HTC just hasn’t been able to reclaim the market share they lost to the likes of Samsung and even Chinese smartphone makers like Huawei.

It’s been a tough time for the Taiwanese company and we’re not sure what the future holds for them. The good news is that they will still be making smartphones but the question that looms overhead will always read: Will they be as good?

I don’t know. I guess only time will tell.

What do you guys think of this deal? Let me know in the comments below. Also, tell me what your first HTC device was. Mine was the HTC Desire and I loved it to bits…literally.

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