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New Hardware Push by Google Aims to Take on Apple

New Hardware Push by Google Aims to Take on Apple
Planting itself firmly in the hardware business and challenging Apple Inc's iPhone at the high end of the $400 billion global smartphone market, Alphabet Inc's Google on Tuesday announced a new "Pixel" smartphone and a suite of new consumer electronics products for the home.
In what is the clearest sign yet that Google intends to compete head-to-head with Apple, Inc and even manufacturers of phones using its own Android mobile operating system, a 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, was made by the company.
They were striving for tighter integration of hardware and software, said company executives, echoing Apple's longstanding philosophy.
"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.
Mario Queiroz, a vice president of product management said that a much more integrated approach to things like supply chain management and design is being taken by the company under the new structure.
"The learnings from one product are benefiting another product," he said.
Even though Taiwan's HTC Corp will serve as the contract manufacturer, the Pixel devices are designed and developed by Google from the start, unlike earlier Google phone efforts under the Nexus brand.
Emulating Apple's agreement to launch the original iPhone with AT&T Inc., Google said it would work exclusively with a single carrier in the United States, Verizon Communications Inc, on the Pixel, taking another page from the Apple playbook,
Unprecedented control over the look of the phone and how it worked was given to Apple by that deal.
Shares of Alphabet closed up 0.3 percent, while Verizon fell 1.2 percent.
Analysts said that the phone’s high-end camera is one of few distinguishing features and it comes in two sizes. The phones will be able to get up to a seven-hour charge in 15 minutes and come in black, blue and silver. Pre-orders begin on Tuesday.
"Aside from the camera, the new Google Pixels are pretty undifferentiated compared to Samsung and iPhone seventh generation phones," industry analyst Patrick Moorhead said.
While analysts said Android rivals like Samsung Electronics could be the biggest victim if the Pixel takes off, Google executives took several swipes at Apple in their on-stage remarks as the new phones are clearly aimed at competing with the iPhone.
According to IDC, Android is the dominant mobile operating system with some 89 percent of the global market and Google's strategy of licensing Android for free and profiting from embedded services such as search and maps has made this possible.
Google has long been frustrated by the emergence of many variations of Android and the inconsistent experience that has produced and Apple still rules the high end of the market. Analysts said that its relationship with Android licensees could get complicated as the company pushes its own hardware.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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