Google’s Pixel makes its power play

The Sun (Malaysia) - - TECH TODAY -

GOOGLE re­cently launched the pre­mium-priced Pixel smart­phones ( far right), as well as a slew of other de­vices show­cas­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) prow­ess.

The un­veil­ing of Google’s in-house de­signed phone came as part of an ex­panded hard­ware move by the US com­pany, which also re­vealed de­tails about its new ‘home as­sis­tant’ vir­tual re­al­ity head­set and WiFi router sys­tem.

The San Fran­cisco event marked a shift in strat­egy for Google, which is un­der­tak­ing a ma­jor drive to make Google As­sis­tant ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence a fu­tur­is­tic force span­ning all kinds of in­ter­net-linked de­vices.

“We are evolv­ing from a mo­bile­first world to an AI-first world,” Google chief ex­ec­u­tive Sun­dar Pichai said. “Our goal is to build a per­sonal Google for each and ev­ery user.”

Pixel will be avail­able with a fiveor 5.5-inch dis­play, sim­i­lar to the lat­est iPhone mod­els.

By us­ing its own name on hand­sets, Google is aim­ing for a big­ger slice of the com­pet­i­tive smart­phone mar­ket, dom­i­nated by Sam­sung and Ap­ple.

Un­til now, Google’s flag­ship de­vices had used the Nexus brand with hard­ware part­ners that have in­cluded China’s Huawei and South Korea’s LG.

The Cal­i­for­nia group also sought to ex­pand in the smart­phone mar­ket by pur­chas­ing Mo­torola in 2011, but sold the unit less than three years later.

Un­like past smart­phone al­liances, Google stressed that it had com­plete con­trol of Pixel from start to fin­ish, con­tract­ing with Tai­wan-based HTC to man­u­fac­ture hand­sets.

The new Pixel phone is “the first phone made by Google in­side and out”, said Sab­rina El­lis of the Pixel prod­uct man­age­ment team.

By pro­duc­ing both the hard­ware and An­droid soft­ware, Google is mak­ing a more di­rect as­sault on Ap­ple and its tightly-con­trolled ecosys­tem.

Be­sides be­ing the first smart­phone to ship with Google As­sis­tant, it will come with un­lim­ited stor­age for pho­tos and videos and be com­pat­i­ble with the com­pany’s new Day­dream vir­tual re­al­ity plat­form.

Pixel has a ‘smart’ cam­era for sub­lime pho­tos, and a pro­gram to make it easy for users to switch op­er­at­ing sys­tems, a move aimed at en­cour­ag­ing iPhone users to con­vert to An­droid.

How­ever, Google may find it chal­leng­ing to gain mar­ket share, an­a­lyst Pa­trick Moor­head of Moor In­sights & Strat­egy said.

“Aside from the cam­era, the new Google Pix­els are pretty un­dif­fer­en­ti­ated com­pared to Sam­sung and iPhone 7th gen­er­a­tion phones,” he said. “They don’t ex­actly swing any­one around the room.”

Pixel will be sold through US car­rier Ver­i­zon and tele­com groups, and be avail­able at Google’s on­line shop un­locked. – AFP

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