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Google is building a hardware empire that extends beyond Pixel phones

Pixel 3 Release Date

At the highest level, Google and Apple are opposites. Apple is a hardware company that uses software and services to lock customers into its ecosystem. Google is a software and services company that uses hardware as a delivery mechanism for its services and ads. As time goes on, however, each company continues to push further into the other’s territory, and Google recently took a major step onto Apple’s turf when it spent $1.1 billion to acquire a large portion of HTC’s hardware engineering and R&D teams.

Google’s freshly expanded hardware division now gains a large team of about 2,000 people who join the company from HTC, many of whom were involved with designing and building the Pixel smartphones that were developed by HTC for Google. It appears as though Google will move the development of future Pixel phones entirely in-house, but a new report suggests that Google has much bigger plans for its newly expanded hardware team than just smartphones.

HTC is partially responsible for designing and building three of the four Pixel brand smartphones Google has released to date. Both original models were created in partnership with HTC in 2016, and 2017’s Pixel 2 was also made alongside HTC. The team of engineers Google pulled in from HTC will continue to help develop new smartphones, but a new report from Digitimes that cites comments from a Google executive says Google plans to expand its hardware efforts into new directions.

“Google’s R&D team in Taiwan will not only develop smartphones but also other products, while expanding the company’s hardware development, according to Rick Osterloh, senior hardware vice president at Google,” Digitimes reporter Steve Shen wrote.

Osterloh went on to say that Google’s AI expertise and software know-how will combine with the newly bolstered hardware engineering group to develop a range of exciting hardware products. Needless to say, the exec failed to dive into any details, so it’s unclear which new hardware categories Google might be focused on for future products.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.