Alphabet is preparing to double down on its Google-branded hardware offerings with the launch of the Pixel 2 line of smartphones Wednesday. The timing could hardly be more auspicious, as it follows the September 21 announcement that the company will pick up part of longtime strategic partner HTC in a $1.1 billion acqui-hire, a move that involves roughly 2,000 HTC employees, including many engineers behind the first Pixel.
In addition, the deal gives Google a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property, putting the search giant on firmer footing to do battle with Apple just as the latest iteration of the iPhone hits the market with mixed results.
But it's not always been a battle Google has been capable of fighting. Indeed, the company's ability to box its own, albeit modest, corner of the smartphone market is a bit unexpected. And it's thanks in no small measure to the company's
prolific dealmaking, which has been dominated by activity in the mobile space over the last decade.
Google's M&A activity since 2007 by industry vertical
Far and away its single largest transaction was the 2012 acquisition of Motorola for roughly $13 billion—a flop of a deal by most measures: About two years later, Google sold the mobile phone maker to Chinese laptop manufacturer Lenovo for some $3 billion but retained the patents. It's a cautionary tale, one that Google appears to have learned by partnering with HTC rather than purchasing the Taiwanese device maker outright.