Home / IT / Telecom / Tech/ Google launches new phones, speakers in hardware push

Google launches new phones, speakers in hardware push


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Friday, 6 October 2017 00:00


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters): Alphabet Inc’s Google on Wednesday unveiled the second generation of its Pixel smartphone along with new voice-enabled home speakers, redoubling its commitment to the hardware business as it competes with a surge of devices from Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc.

Google’s new products, including a Pixelbook laptop, wireless earbuds and a small GoPro-like camera, showcase Google-developed operating systems and services, notably the voice assistant. That means usage of those devices should stoke the company’s core ad sales business as buyers of the hardware use Google services like search and maps.

Speaking at the launch in San Francisco, Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh said the new products “perfectly demonstrate our strategy of re-imagining hardware from the inside out.”

The Pixel 2 smartphone comes in two sizes, with comparable features, including aluminium bodies and no traditional jacks for headphones. Prices for the base model start at $649, while the high-end version starts at $849. The phones will be available Oct. 19.

The Pixel phones lack the brand lustre and market share of similarly priced smartphones such as the Apple iPhone or Samsung Electronics Co’s Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphones. Still, the original Pixel’s camera and software drew acclaim from reviewers, many of whom expect the line to become a robust competitor at the high end of the Android smartphone market.

Pixelbook, priced at $999, is the first laptop powered by Google Assistant and will support Snap Inc’s Snapchat, the company said. The keyboard folds behind the screen to turn the 12.3-inch touchscreen into a tablet. It will be available in stores from Oct. 31.

Google Home Mini, one of the new speakers, is priced at $49 in the United States and would rival Amazon.com Inc’s popular Echo Dot. It will be available Oct. 19. The Home Max, with dual woofers for more powerful sound, is priced at $399 and with availability by the end of the year.

The Pixel Buds, which are priced at $149, arrive in November. Clips, which is pocket-sized camera with object detection and automatic recording capabilities, “soon” goes on sale for $249, Google said. Videos last only a few seconds and do not contain audio.

The Pixel smartphone debuted a year ago, with analysts estimating sales of more than 2 million, pushing Google to record amounts of non-advertising revenue.

Google’s “other” revenue category, which includes both hardware and sales of online storage services, accounted for about 12 percent of overall sales in its most recent quarter.

Last month, Google expanded its hardware development capabilities by picking up a 2,000-person smartphone engineering team at HTC for $1.1 billion. Google moved into smartphones five years ago with the $12.5-billion purchase of Motorola Mobility. But Motorola’s hardware team, under Osterloh, and Google’s Android mobile operating system division remained independent. Google wanted to avoid giving it a special advantage and protect its relationships with Samsung, LG and other distributors of Android. The company later sold the Motorola smartphone business.

Osterloh, now working inside Google, moved to bring in-house the HTC team Google contracted to design the Pixel. He enjoys a strong relationship with Hiroshi Lockheimer, the Android division head. The pair have been friends since working together for several years at Good Technology in the early 2000s.

Protecting relationships with others in the Android ecosystem has become less of a concern. Samsung ratched down the rivalry with Google after the firms agreed to a major patent licensing deal in early 2014. Other vendors have seen their market share dip.

Google’s eye is now on Apple, whose iPhone has become the smartphone to beat. The first Pixel debuted a year ago with a significant marketing push: during the last three months of the year, Google spent an estimated $110 million to air 12 Pixel-related commercials, according to data from advertising measurement firm iSpot.tv.

Apple spent $147 million during the same span, iSpot.tv said. Apple has sustained its TV time throughout the last year, while Google’s efforts have tapered off.

In the speakers market, Google’s personal-assistant lags Amazon’s Echo devices in market share, according to investment bank Cowen & Co. Last week, Amazon released several new models of the Echo, including one with a display as it tried to find a place in every niche.

Rishi Chandra, vice president of product management for Google’s Home hardware unit, said in an interview that Google was being “a little bit more thoughtful” than the online shopping company.

“Amazon is taking a broad approach,” Chandra said. “We’re going to iterate until we have a good product story to tell.”

 


Share This Article


DISCLAIMER:

1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.

COMMENTS

Today's Columnists

Designers of Sri Lanka’s Future: Episode I Nihal Ranasinghe

Monday, 23 April 2018

To sustain economic growth, Sri Lanka needs a critical pool of daring people who would see things differently and design a new future.


Lalith: An invincible legacy

Monday, 23 April 2018

The twenty third day of April, 1993 is among a handful of blots in our national hall of shame. It was the day on which a lone gunman, perhaps with conspirators yet unknown, acted to neutralise a political threat by depriving all Sri Lankans of the in


Sri Lanka lost its maritime aspirations 60 years ago

Monday, 23 April 2018

Protectionism was the key factor that prevented Sri Lanka becoming a maritime hub 60 years ago,when our leaders could not see beyond the horizons to develop the nation in the late 50s and early 60s, which opened the doors to Singapore to be what it i


‘The Ants’ as a ‘disruptive’ teledrama: Managerial insights

Monday, 23 April 2018

I hardly watch teledramas, not only because I value my time but also because of their questionable value.


Columnists More