Google’s Pixel makes its power play
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