back to article Google to relieve HTC of its phones biz – report

Google is set to relieve HTC of its mobile phones unit, according to a report in Taiwan's Commercial Times, leaving the company to focus on its Vive VR helmet. Originally a Windows Mobile contract phone manufacturer, HTC currently produces Google's Pixel phones, a relationship which is expected to continue. However, since its …

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Good news

Hopefully with Google's cash, HTC can get back to making good phones and stop the wild flailing that's caused them to stuff up since the original One.

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Re: Good news

My u11 is wonderful. Best phone I've ever owned by a distance. Best audio (both calls and music), best screen, best camera, smoothest UI - and solidest networking, both mobile and wifi.

Huge improvement on the 10 I lost the other week.

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Re: Good news

I do have to say I'm very happy with my 10 though.

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Pint

My G1

Fast approaching 10 years old now, says he with a proud glint in his eye.

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Re: My G1

I've still got my desire Z floating around too. Loved the keyboard on it. Shame you can't get anything that does the same trick now.

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Re: My G1

The Psion-style Gemini Android / Linux (dual-boot) PDA phone thingy is due to ship in November. It's an Indiegogo product:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gemini-pda-android-linux-keyboard-mobile-device-phone#/

There's also an Indiegogo campaign for a snap on Moto Mod keyboard, but it's not as far along:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/keyboard-mod-a-physical-keyboard-for-the-moto-z#/

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Re: My G1

I loved my Desire Z but ironically it was the phone that turned me off HTC as they stopped updating it pretty rapidly while other phones of the same HTC range were.

It also had several annoying bugs that were never ironed out and I never got a response from HTC about.

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Re: My G1

That Gemini looks so damn cool. Android, touch screen, WiFi ... it's what Psion would be putting out today had they continued with PDA's.

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Re: My G1

I too still have my G1, though I've mostly kept it as a curiosity. It's running Cyanogenmod, takes three forevers to boot, and I can't get it to connect to the network (Ting/T-Mobile). Not that I really tried very hard. But it's nominally functional.

OTOH the phone I really miss is my Sidekick II. Totally irrelevant to this thread, but there you go.

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Re: My G1

My original Desire did all I wanted but I was put off HTC by it, not a single update in the 3 years or so I used it. The irony for me is that Google have the best track record for security updates but are the worst data hoover. It's almost as if they don't want anyone but them knowing every damn thing about you...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: My G1

The problem with concepts like the Moto Mod is stability: the bulk of the mass is in the display, and yet when open, the device needs to be at a reasonable angle. The Mod approach reduces the amount of surface that can be used for a keyboard.

I have had a play with pre-production Gemini prototypes (story and pix imminent) and am only really starting to realise how clever the design is. The hinge increases the surface area, the keys are depressed when the case is closed, so the design remains slim and yet still has full travel keys. It helps that the mass is in the base, of course.

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ADD

Who will Google flog them off to in two years time?

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Re: ADD

Microsoft perhaps?

ducks to avoid incoming

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Coat

Re: ADD

Nokia

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Re: ADD

To be fair, I don't think Google did too badly out of Motorola. They bought it for $12bn or something. But they kept hold of the patents, it had a couple of billion in cash (that they kept of course) then they sold most of it to Lenovo, with a few other bits being sold elsewhere. Kept a couple of divisions and also got something close to $5bn of tax credits for Motorola's previous years of losses - to offset against their own profits.

I saw someone worked out that they made a profit. Hard to know if that was true, but someone wrote a piece on it for El Reg, back in the day. Worstall perhaps?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ADD

They didn't keep the patents, they added them to the patent pool to prevent patent trolls.

Of course this doesn't fit the Google is evil agenda, so nobody remembered it.

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Motorola

Google got a bunch of patents and, since Motorola had billions in losses prior to the purchase, Google got billions worth of tax writeoffs. Supposedly between the value of patents that Google kept, the tax writeoffs, and the sale of Motorola, Google broke even or made a bit of a profit.

With HTC there isn't the large patent portfolio or tax writeoffs, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

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Facepalm

Re: Motorola

Which is why Google resold the Moto phone brand.

I remember the cute swivel screen O2 XDA QWERTY smartphone from HTC that looked like it would break.

I can't see VR or AR headsets being a big market for HTC. Maybe they are really just packing it in now that Google has bought the phones, which sounds as sensible as MS buying Nokia's phones. MS and Nokia still exist, but the phones are gone.

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Re: Motorola

Nokia is alive and kicking, with a great new portfolio of low and mid range fondlephones.

They we're acquired by a company called HMD Global.

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Re: Motorola

HMD didn't buy Nokia. They bought the rights to use their name to sell some phones.

Nokia is still happily trading, selling network kit and services. But they were glad to get rid of their phone division in the end. Though I'm sure they'd have loved Microsoft to propel it back into profit/relevance.

They'd held the Chinese off on cost for dumb-phones for years, by amazingly good supply chain management and organisation. But they finally started losing out. Just at the time that they were transitioning from the already failing Symbian onto the even more failing Windows Phone.

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WTF?

Re: Nokia

Nokia is alive and kicking...

I have still not heard what that was really about. I can't even think of a good conspiracy theory!

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Re: Motorola

They were transitioning from Symbian to Meego, until Elop came along and killed Meego.

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Screw HTC, buy Wileyfox instead

Perhaps the only good thing to come out of that is the fact that at least HTC phones made under googles ownership... will get updates. Because that's the single reason I refuse to ever buy a HTC phone ever again... they promised updates and then backtracked and left the top of the line (at the time) phone unsupported whilst updating the cheap crap. Companies that do things like that don't deserve anyones business and I'm happy to tell anyone that if they mention getting a HTC phone.

I'd estimate it's cost them at least half a dozen sales... and who knows if it will cost them more due to people seeing things like this online.

Not the first time I've slammed them for doing this and on multiple sites too. I eventually found a company that provides regular updates and supplies excellent phones at a decent price. I'd gladly tell everyone to go out and buy a Wileyfox... as they're possibly the best value for money phones around at the moment... and whilst the phones are still made in China, at least it's a UK company you'd be supporting.

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Re: Screw HTC, buy Wileyfox instead

Agreed, even after the forced move from Cyanogen the security updates keep flowing. I just received their release of the August Android update today. When I replace the phone (another year or two probably, easily replaceable batteries extend the life) I'll probably go with them again.

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Re: Screw HTC, buy Wileyfox instead

I wouldn't suggest Wileyfox due to their woeful aftersales support which is near non-existent, if you go by the reviews on Amazon particularly.

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Re: Screw HTC, buy Wileyfox instead

Can't really recommend my Storm as the touchscreen really goes mental from time to time (the plastic protector was a workaround, I took it off when it became a bit tatty round the edges and regretted it ever since), useless compass, loss of dual SIM on/off switches in CM13.1, and battery life which is plummeting and it's only about two years old.

Others complain of LED problems but I've never had that, then again I turned off the capacitive buttons and used soft buttons instead.

Don't want to update to their AOSP as I'd lose Privacy Guard.

Now I'd go for a Nokia which are a similar price and better hardware.

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Re: Screw HTC, buy Wileyfox instead

buy Wileyfox instead

For what reason? Wileyfox aren't a manufacturer. They're a "virtual manufacturer", which amounts to being a specifiier, using the Shenzen supply chain, and anybody could do something similar. So you buy Wileyfox, no IP, no production assets, no manufacturing or design skills. And whilst the brand is a bit hip and counter-culture, it is also small beer, plucky UK underdog.

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with any of those attributes, but Wileyfox has no scalability or international significance for Google, AND its a bit of a killer that they've avoided Google Android, and made a specific point of offering Cyanogenmod. Whereas HTC have design and manufacturing knowledge, they have manufacturing assets, they have a globally recognised brand, and they've flogged Google's flavour of Android..

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Re: Screw HTC, buy Wileyfox instead

...I refuse to ever buy a HTC phone ever again... they promised updates and then backtracked...

Which phone was that - I only ask because my HTC 10 got its fourth or fifth update yesterday.

The only thing I could fault it on is its propensity to heat up if you use it as a sat-nav for more than half an hour, so that it gets almost too hot to hold and it occasionally freezes up.

Other than that, I can't fault it - nice screen, good UI, solidly built, decent camera and sound...

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Alert

Re: Screw HTC, buy Wileyfox instead

Unfortunately, Google only promise 18 months of security updates after they stop selling a given phone model from their website.

I think that they should really provide a minimum of 4 years of security updates at the point that they stop selling a particular phone model.

I don't care if I'm not running the latest OS, but I do care if my device can be easily hacked.

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Re: Screw HTC, buy Wileyfox instead

Desire HD they did that to me on, but I relented and bought a 10 which just didn't do it for me so sold that and bought a OnePlus3 which is by far the best phone I've ever owned and very dev friendly, unlock bootloader and root etc without losing warranty cover

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Screw HTC, buy Wileyfox instead

Easily hacked. Lol. Ever actually heard of real world Android device hacking?? Nope it's non existent. Plenty of theoretical and scare stories from "experts" we have never heard of, bit real world evidence of the 2bn+ active android phones, it's totally radio silence. Go figure..... Ever get the feeling you've been cheated????

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Way back in around 2007 I had an HTC P6500 that I managed to get for free* from Orange (as it was then). It was solid (I dropped it onto a concrete step, it survived), had all the required features including fingerprint sensor and GPS that came later for other models, and being Windows it integrated properly with the PC. Trouble was HTC stood still at the time and everyone else moved on.

*It was supposed to be business supply only and around £320 up front on the contract I was on. I didn't even have to threaten to leave although I'm sure that's the justification the helpful customer services person used.

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Purely on account of them not being Microsoft, I think we can safely assume that it won't be anywhere close to the Nokia-Elop-Ballmonkey-Microsoft car crash.

Had an HTC WP thing when I had the dubious honour of being a WP sales specialist for a mobe carrier. Fairly capable device - although someway behind the Nokia 800/900s of the same period.

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Google agenda for Motorola/HTC

1: Buy company

2: Strip of patents and assets

3: Sell to the Chinese at a loss

4: Repeat

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Wasteful Google

However did Google stay successful with so much waste and bad management?

They must have had about 50 Android chat apps by now duplicating functions and they've got to the point where they have the money to buy companies for fun and sell them at a loss later on.

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Re: Wasteful Google

Simple, they dominate the online ad market and anything that helps feed the ad monster means more profit for them. Developing a bunch of chat apps and buying phone OEMs don't contribute to that, so they are wasted money, but that wasted money is a drop in the bucket compared to how much they make.

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Competing with their own customers

Buying Motorola was a bad idea, but at least they had other goals in mind rather than competing with Android OEMs. What's the goal of buying HTC, if not to compete with Android OEMs? Putting out a low volume high priced phone like Pixel is one thing, but buying HTC's phone business would seem to indicate they are interested in offering phones across the Android market, and in volume.

Maybe they are no longer worried about Samsung forking Android or going with Tizen or whatever, and feel Android OEMs are stuck with Android and therefore can't do anything about Google competing with them?

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Meh

Re: Competing with their own customers

Maybe they are no longer worried about Samsung forking Android...

Samsung just lost a sale to me because I don't like that possibility. This would have been my 4th or fifth Samsung but the thought that the next one would have even more undesirable Sammy duplicates of perfectly good existing apps helped steer me away.

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Re: Competing with their own customers

I wonder if it's google saying "If you guys won't do it right and be responsible about security and updates, then we'll just do it ourselves."

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Re: Competing with their own customers

Maybe they are no longer worried about Samsung forking Android

That has never been a real possibility outside the fantasy of a few analysts. Samsung does want to be in on the services market but, just like Baidu, it doesn't need to fork Android to do tha.

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Anonymous Coward

HTC was the architect of its own demise

For about three years, It had embarked on an epic journey self-delusion regarding its 'Ultrapixel' camera, claiming it was good and 'megapixels doesn't matter', despite reviews and tests all showing how terrible the 'Ultrapixel' camera had performed.

The holy trinity of an Android phone: camera, battery and the Android OS (the UX, how bloat-free it is, how quickly it gets updated to a newer version). Users may tolerate thick bezels, a lack of waterproofing and wireless charging, and tinny audio. But eff up any one of the holy trinity and your phone will not sell well.

Having a chunk of your product portfolio go after a dead ecosystem (Windows phones) also didn't help, especially if you aren't a giant such as Samsung. Samsung owns a wide variety of fairly profitable businesses.

A Note 7 battery fiasco would have destroyed HTC overnight. For Samsung, it's just a flesh wound.

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Re: HTC was the architect of its own demise

HTC are actually a big company ( O.K. a subsidiary of a large company ) its just not a big brand name.

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Worth saving?

The brand quickly lost reputation for post-sales support outside of Taiwan - Is worth saving, and were would it fit in with existing Google brands and lines without a shack-up?

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