Google has closed its $1.1 billion buy-in to the hardware business of HTC, bringing around 2,000 chip and integrated circuit designers in-house enabling it to design its own CPUs and hardware for smartphones.
The idea is that more control over the hardware will enable the company to better control the smartphones and other devices that it produces, as well as to better compete against Apple in high-end smartphones.
The investment come after a string of embarrassments with its most recent Pixel 2 smartphone, as well as older Nexus devices.
In the past, Google has turned to HTC, LG, Samsung and others to design and manufacture its Nexus and Pixel smartphones, while it focused on the development of the Android software they ran.
However, the company has already confirmed that it s working on new custom hardware, after it developed the imaging processor embedded in the Pixel 2 in-house. The HTC deal will add to the company’s internal electronics engineering capabilities.
Google may also be considering building its own hardware for virtual/augmented reality headsets and artificial intelligence-based systems, although HTC enjoys its own market lead in the VR headset market.
Apple already kits out the iPhone with ARM-based microprocessors designed in-house, and recently added graphics processing capabilities – a development that cost its main graphics processing technology supplier, Imagination Technologies, dear.
Nevertheless, developing its own SoCs will require significant investment, and will require the resulting devices to be markedly more popular than the company’s recent Pixel and Pixel 2 devices.
Previously, Google has developed the Pixel Visual core, a custom chip that works in a similar way to Apple’s A11 Bionic and Samsung’s Exynos 8895. But a future SoC from the company would be far more powerful.
Should Google choose to go down this route, it’d likely save money and time having to dish out hardware-making chores to the likes of Qualcomm, and the firm would also be in full control of security and software patches.