HTC and Google have a relationship that has spanned several years with the smartphone manufacturer building some of the first Android phones (G1), even collaborating with Google on the original Nexus. HTC quickly gained traction in the smartphone industry and was a big player in it for quite some time, but in the past couple of years, the company has lost major market share to its competitors. Now, rumors are floating around that Google might end up buying the company. This just a few years after Google sold off Moto to Lenovo, likely to keep Samsung in its stable.

Rewinding just a couple of weeks, HTC revealed quite publicly the level to which it was struggling, as the company has been thought to be exploring the possibility of selling its successful Vive VR platform or the company as a whole. Just a day later, rumors started coming out that the company was going to sell its smartphone business, and that Google was one of the contenders.

Today those rumors have been re-sparked by a report by the Commercial Times. To be clear, there are no concrete sources or evidence for the outlet’s claims, but it states that “final negotiations” are currently underway and could be finalized by the end of the year.

Right now we really don’t know if Google and HTC have this plans as both the search giant and Taiwanese OEM has neglected to comment on the matter. However, these rumors do spark another question — why would Google even want to buy HTC?

A dedicated resource for the Pixel’s future

The most obvious reason that Google could be buying HTC’s smartphone division is to have an in-house resource dedicated to developing and manufacturing the Pixel. While HTC had trouble keeping up with supply on the original model, having the company’s entire manufacturing capabilities focused on just one or two phones it should easily be able to keep up with demand.

Along with that, having HTC’s resources when it comes to audio and imaging could help further enhance future Pixels in the years to come. We could even see design elements from phones like the U11 and U Ultra make their way to the Pixel lineup.

Seeing that Google is serious about the Pixel’s future, any move that helps bring manufacturing in-house would probably be a good move for the company. Of course, it’s pretty clear that whatever HTC has to offer may not be enough for Google’s needs just yet seeing that LG is manufacturing one of this year’s Pixel devices.

This could just be a way of keeping the next Pixel alive for a year or two

On the other hand, Google’s plan for this could end up being pretty short term. We’ve known for quite some time that the smaller of this year’s Pixel phones is going to be made by HTC, and we’ve reported a lot about what it will offer recently as well. With Google preparing to launch this phone as HTC speeds up this downward spiral, it can’t spell anything good for the future of that phone.

To avoid anything major going wrong with HTC in the next 12 or so months, Google could be considering buying out the smartphone division just to keep the lights on long enough to give this phone its proper run.

IT also has to support that phone and the current Pixel line for the immediate future. IF the lines shut down or are liquidated, it could be catastrophic for the Pixel line.

In either case, this could end up being a very necessary move for Google. HTC has proven time and again that it can make very high-quality hardware and it has quite a lot of patents related to its phone, so even if we’re looking at another Motorola here, it’s probably a good thing at the end of the day, especially at the fire sale price that HTC is probably worth.

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Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

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