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Google is building a hardware empire that extends beyond Pixel phones

Zach Epstein
February 2nd, 2018 at 12:24 PM
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 worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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