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I hope Google can do to HTC what they did to Motorola
I don’t care what you call it, “Googorola” was awesome. That magical mish-mash of Android’s core developers blended with the company that helped popularize that same platform all those years ago resulted in something which not only saved Motorola’s life, but brought them back in a way unlike we’ve seen in any other manufacturer since. Though the partnership lasted less than two years (March 2012 – January 2014) the company under Google’s leadership produced some truly incredible products. From the legendary Moto X to the beautiful Moto 360, it seemed like there was nothing this dynamic duo couldn’t do.
With news filling the air of Google actually making the leap to purchase HTC, I’m left with a sense of nostalgia I haven’t felt since Googorola hit the scene. It’s no secret that Google has been using HTC for a while now to produce its first generation Pixel and Pixel XL handsets, but if Google actually moves in to acquire the company, this could be a whole new ball game.
Pure Pixel potential
Alright, sorry about all the alliteration, but seriously, hear me out. Why do you think people always say “iPhones just work”? It’s because Apple has almost complete control of all software and hardware development of their phones. Sure, Foxconn actually produces the devices, but Apple only makes one to two phones a year, which allows them to be much more careful about quality control. They have hundreds of people in QA constantly testing to make sure that one yearly device is free of bugs and glitches, and they’re able to build one operating system around one phone and worry about nothing else.
'Made by Google' was created to build trust between customers who were weary to purchase an Android device
Now, Google has kind of already started doing this. The whole “Made by Google” campaign was created to build trust between customers who were weary to purchase an Android device. Why do you think almost all of my friends have mistaken my Pixel for an iPhone? It’s supposed to be simple. It’s supposed to be recognizable. And most of all, it’s supposed to be easy to use. The Pixel is just that, with its big, easy-to-see icons and incredibly fluid touch latency. These are aspects of the phone that don’t get recorded on spec sheets, but they sure as hell bleed into the user experience.
Think back to the original Moto X. What made that phone so darn special? Sure, it was incredibly customizable, with Moto Maker (RIP) giving the customer thousands of possibilities to make their phone truly theirs. But what caused that phone to get such incredible reviews to the point where it remains one of my favorite phones of all time?
It was the experience.
Motorola wanted to make something that was easy to hold and easy to use… Scrolling through home screens and the app drawer was always smooth… Overall the Moto X is a very solid release that focuses more on what the phone actually does instead of just providing the specs and focusing on what it could do.
These are all quotes from our original Moto X review way back in 2013. It was obvious that Google and Motorola were focusing on making the experience as fluid as possible, and they seem to have to done that again with the Pixel line. Focusing processing power on fluid animations and touch latency is what makes a phone really shine to the mass consumer, and it is this core value smashed in the middle of a great software suite that has really helped Apple’s iPhone succeed. And while we are already seeing the benefits of Google taking the reigns in terms of software and hardware design, actually owning the company could help elevate its devices to a whole new level.
A shift in philosophy
When Google made the move to purchase Motorola, it was a temporary maneuver. Officially, the company stated that it only purchased the Motorola to acquire its patents and keep them safe from the likes of Apple and Microsoft. Everyone thought it was a strange move. Wouldn’t Google producing their own devices undermine all the other Android OEM’s on the market? With Google developing software for use in such a wide range of phones, this seemed like the case, and in the end, it kind of was.
The Moto X was a nearly stock Android handset with a few software tweaks that benefited the user, not some bloated skin the company had developed in order to differentiate itself from competitors. But this very move was also the saving grace of the company, and helped Motorola to combat Samsung and others to create more diversity in the Android space.
With HTC completely under its wing, Google can start focusing on tailoring its OS to its own devices more than it ever has before
Now Google has changed its mind. Creating its own devices has become a new part of its core philosophy, and it’s even gone so far as to hide the fact that HTC was manufacturing its devices. While you could argue that the Nexus line always represented what Google’s baseline “true” experience was meant to be, working with different manufacturers almost every year caused the experience to shift every time the company introduced a new device. With HTC completely under its wing, Google can start focusing on tailoring its OS to its own devices more than it ever has before, and could even have its own engineers work with HTC’s fabrication team to make sure Pixel devices are as refined and tailored to Android as the iPhone is to iOS.
The HTC question
Will Google still allow HTC to make phones, or will it pump all its resources into its own line of devices?
Here’s where this purchase starts to get a little weird. If Google goes all in and purchases HTC, will it still allow HTC to make phones, or will it pump all its resources into its own line of devices? When Google bought Motorola, they were very straightforward that they were leaving the Moto brand alone but sending in their own team to help, going so far as to make their very own Dennis Woodside the new CEO of the company. By purchasing HTC, Google is either eliminating the company completely and switching it’s focus on Pixel, or undermining the sales of its own devices with the sale of HTC branded phones.
Sure, all the cash would still flow into Google in the end, but HTC has always marketed themselves as a “premium” brand, just like Google is attempting to do with the Pixel line. Creating two different premium lines of phones would be a really, really weird thing for the company to do, and I just can’t see Google undermining the sales of the Pixel with HTC-branded devices.
Now, it is possible that Google will re-work HTC to target the low-end market. Loads of companies have shown that you can create a perfectly acceptable experience with cheaper hardware. Heck, the recent announcement of the Xiaomi Mi A1 got us more excited than a lot of flagships have, simply because it offers great hardware and an awesome experience at a price that many, many more people can afford. If Google wants to keep the HTC branding around, they could always diversify their own portfolio by producing budget HTC devices that target a market that does not have the resources to pick up a Pixel device.
There’s also the question of whether or not Google will actually keep the company, or just get them back on their feet and shoot them back into the world like they did with Motorola. While the latter was really just an acquisition of patents and an attempt to create more competition in the space, Google really needs a sole manufacturer this time around. It already seems pretty strange that Google is said to use LG for it’s upcoming Pixel XL 2 device this year, especially when they are likely once again using HTC for their regularly sized Pixel 2. Doing this feels more like a Nexus move than a Pixel one, and if this deal actually goes through and Google decides to hold on to HTC, we’ll probably see solely HTC-manufactured Pixel devices in the future, since all the costs would go directly through them.
Obviously this deal isn’t set in stone. Everything is just speculation right now, but the potential of such a sale gets me really, really exited for Google’s future as a manufacturer. Is it a little weird that they started making their own devices again? Sure. But something truly magical can happen when you have the power to control the hardware and software on your devices, and since Android is still an open-source operating system, this doesn’t mean we will stop seeing competition from other OEM’s on the market.
Remember - nothing's set it stone yet
What are your thoughts on the potential sale? There are still a lot of questions that have yet to be answered, and we’ll have to wait and see where this goes in the near future. One thing is for sure though: I want to find love again in a phone every bit as magical as the Motorola Moto X.