Google recent launch of a new smartphone to compete against Apple’s iPhone could come under a firestorm with Android partners if not managed well. The premium end of a global device market is estimated at a market worth of 400 billion US dollars. Google may be holding a paltry share of this market, but with its recent announcement, could eventually hurt itself since it still doesn’t have or play the cards of a true OEM.
The “Pixel” phone was announced with a suite of new consumer electronics, indicating that Google seems to want to place itself firmly in the hardware business. It is the clearest sign yet that Google has shown of its intentions and the grey areas with regards to evolving Android and its vast ecosystem still exist. To compete head-to-head with Apple and even manufacturers of phones using its own Android mobile operating system is a tough route. And it signals similar track that Microsoft has failed severally attempting to do.
“The thinking is that if we can work on hardware and software together, we can innovate much better,” said Googles hardware chief Rick Osterloh told Reuters, citing a recent reorganization that united once-disparate hardware teams. 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.
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. “Aside from the camera, the new Google Pixels are pretty undifferentiated compared to Samsung and iPhone seventh-generation phones,” industry analyst Patrick Moorhead said.
Google’s strategy of licensing Android for free and profiting from embedded services such as search and maps have made Android the dominant mobile operating system with some 89 percent of the global market, according to market researchers IDC could also pay off, but that could also mean a more fragmented market of Android versions – a situation not so much in the iOS world.
Other devices Google announced on Tuesday include a smart speaker, a virtual reality headset and a WiFi router. Tuesday’s launch event also saw Google executives tout a new voice-activated artificial intelligence system, which will be embedded into the phones and offer an alternative to Apple’s Siri. It’s still early days on knowing the exact working model that Google would eventually stick with. But one thing is for sure, for a company the size of Google, it’s got enough cash to do trial and error for a while, but will that translate into trust and brand stickiness on the consumer side? Watch this space…