The move is seen by analysts as a serious commitment from Google to design its own family of devices and compete with incumbent high-tech players such as Apple and Amazon who strive to place their services and devices at the centre of consumers' lives.
Giving away its Android operating system for other smartphones and gadgets manufacturers is no longer enough for Google to secure its omnipresence in people's homes (via search engines, emails, maps, YouTube and many other software utilities), the search engine company wants better control over the integration of its services. Moving to hardware is increasingly important for Google, who started last year with an internet-connected speaker and the Pixel phones.
"We think this is a very important step for Google in our hardware efforts," Rick Osterloh, Google's senior vice president of hardware, said at a press conference in Taipei. "We've been focusing on building our core capabilities. But with this agreement, we're taking a very large leap forward."
The deal is expected to close by early 2018 and about 2,000 engineers are expected to be transferred to Google, staff mostly focused on research and development.