Company could become big player in smartphone-making with acquisition of part of HTC and forthcoming Pixel 2 launch – but it’s still got a long way to go

With the Pixel 2 smartphones expected to launch on Wednesday, Google buying up a chunk of smartphone manufacturer HTC and claiming to be “betting big on hardware”, what does the Android-maker really need to do to beat Apple?

Google has dabbled with hardware since the first Android smartphone, the T-Mobile G1 in 2008, following up with the Nexus series of smartphones and tablets that were used as showcases for the latest iterations of Android and then last year’s Pixel. But the search company has never been a big hardware player.

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