Of the three most influential companies in smartphone design, Nokia fragmented into a million pieces after being bought out by Microsoft, Apple is still going strong, and Google just bought the third with its $1.1 billion deal with HTC. The reason why Google acquired what looks to be the majority of HTC’s phone design and engineering team is simple, and it’s been obvious for over a year: Google is serious about becoming a hardware company.
Early in 2016, Google created a new hardware division and re-hired Motorola chief Rick Osterloh to run that group. A brief few months after that, the company was plastering the streets of Europe and the US with billboards trumpeting the arrival of the first “Made by Google” Pixel devices. Why do we refuse to acknowledge what’s right in front of our eyes?
Google is going to war against the iPhone.
It sounds preposterous given the number and quality of apps that Google produces for Apple’s iOS ecosystem, but the iPhone is a direct threat and counter to Google’s overarching goal of being ubiquitous on every internet-connected device. Apple’s voice assistant Siri searches the web using Bing rather than Google, and Apple Maps was created explicitly to shake off Apple’s dependence on Google Maps.