Google's $1.1 billion acquisition of HTC's smartphone engineering arm is not a direct assault against its chief rival, Apple. But it is a recognition of Apple's successful strategy.

It is also an acknowledgement that an ecosystem dominated by hardware manufacturers and telecom providers – each with a set of priorities and plans that doesn't dovetail with Google's – results in a myriad of devices that run the gamut of quality.

With that in mind, Google's buyout of HTC's engineering IP will enable it to create a pure Android play by marrying hardware and software in a move that could eventually reduce fragmentation in the Android ecosystem.

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