Google takes on Ap­ple, Ama­zon

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By REUTERS in San Fran­sico

Al­pha­bet Inc’s Google on Tues­day an­nounced a new “Pixel” smart­phone and a suite of new con­sumer elec­tron­ics prod­ucts for the home, plant­ing it­self firmly in the hard­ware busi­ness and chal­leng­ing Ap­ple Inc’s iPhone at the high end of the $400 bil­lion global smart­phone mar­ket.

The string of an­nounce­ments — in­clud­ing the $649 Pixel, a smart speaker for the liv­ing room dubbed “Home”, a vir­tual re­al­ity head­set, and a new Wi-Fi router — is the clear­est sign yet that Google in­tends to com­pete head-to­head with Ap­ple, Ama­zon. com Inc and even man­u­fac­tur­ers of phones us­ing its own An­droid mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

Com­pany ex­ec­u­tives, echo­ing Ap­ple’s long­stand­ing phi­los­o­phy, said they were striv­ing for tighter in­te­gra­tion of hard­ware and soft­ware.

“The think­ing is that if we can work on hard­ware and soft­ware to­gether, we can in­no­vate much bet­ter,” Google hard­ware chief Rick Oster­loh said in an in­ter­view with Reuters, cit­ing a re­cent re­or­ga­ni­za­tion that united once-dis­parate hard­ware teams.

Un­der the new struc­ture, the com­pany has be­gun to take a much more in­te­grated ap­proach to things like sup­ply chain man­age­ment and de­sign, added Mario Queiroz, a vice-pres­i­dent of prod­uct man­age­ment.

“The learn­ings from one prod­uct are ben­e­fit­ing an­other prod­uct,” he said.

Un­like ear­lier Google phone ef­forts un­der the Nexus brand, the Pixel de­vices are de­signed and de­vel­oped by Google from the start, although Tai­wan’s HTC Corp will serve as the con­tract man­u­fac­turer.

Tak­ing an­other page from the Ap­ple play­book, Google said it would work ex­clu­sively with a sin­gle car­rier in the United States, Ver­i­zon Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc, on the Pixel, em­u­lat­ing Ap­ple’s agree­ment to launch the orig­i­nal iPhone with AT&T Inc. That deal gave Ap­ple un­prece­dented con­trol over the look of the phone and how it worked.

Shares of Al­pha­bet closed up 0.3 per­cent on Tues­day, while Ver­i­zon fell 1.2 per­cent.

The phone comes in two sizes, and its high-end cam­era is one of few dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures, an­a­lysts said. The phones come in black, blue and sil­ver and will be able to get up to a seven-hour charge in 15 min­utes. Pre-or­ders be­gin on Tues­day.

“Aside from the cam­era, the new Google Pix­els are pretty un­dif­fer­en­ti­ated com­pared to Sam­sung and iPhone sev­en­th­gen­er­a­tion phones,” in­dus­try an­a­lyst Pa­trick Moor­head said.

While the new phones are clearly aimed at com­pet­ing with the iPhone — Google ex­ec­u­tives took sev­eral swipes at Ap­ple in their on­stage re­marks — an­a­lysts said An­droid ri­vals like Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics could be the big­gest vic­tim if the Pixel takes off.

Google’s strat­egy of li­cens­ing An­droid for free and prof­it­ing from em­bed­ded ser­vices such as search and maps made An­droid the dom­i­nant mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem with some 89 per­cent of the global mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to IDC.

But Ap­ple still rules the high end of the mar­ket, and Google has long been frus­trated by the emer­gence of many vari­a­tions of An­droid and the in­con­sis­tent ex­pe­ri­ence that has pro­duced. Push­ing its own hard­ware will likely com­pli­cate its re­la­tion­ship with An­droid li­censees, an­a­lysts said.

BECK DIEFENBACH / REUTERS

Rick Oster­loh, SVP Hard­ware at Google, in­tro­duces the Pixel Phone by Google dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of new Google hard­ware in San Fran­cisco on Tues­day.

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