Google Pixel Phones Target Apple, but May Hurt Samsung

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Google Pixel Phones Target Apple, but May Hurt Samsung
Highlights
  • Google has its sights set on the iPhone and the luxury consumer base
  • Newly released ads for the Pixel phones land some blows on the iPhone
  • The Google Assistant is a response to Apple's Siri

Google's product launch on Tuesday was as much a jab at Apple's iPhone as a sales pitch for its new Pixel phones, with executives from the Mountain View internet search company taking shots at their competitor at every turn.

But any gains Google makes with the $649 (roughly Rs. 43,000) Pixel, billed as completely designed in-house, may come not at the expense of Apple, but phone manufacturers running its Android software, a list topped by Samsung.

(Also see: Google Pixel Price in India, Release Date, Specifications, and More)

"A premium Android strategy is really a strategy to take market share from Samsung," said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. The South Korean company already is reeling from a highly publicized recall of its Galaxy Note 7 phones due to battery fires.

"Obviously Google doesn't want to explicitly compete with its own partners, but this product is much more likely to compete with Samsung than Apple," Dawson said.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, clearly has its sights set on the iPhone and the luxury consumer base that it commands.

(Also see: Google Pixel vs. iPhone 7)

"There's no unsightly camera bump," hardware chief Rick Osterloh said to laughter from the audience at the phone's debut, alluding to the iPhone's raised camera, a feature lamented by some design aficionados.

Newly released ads for the Pixel phones land some blows on the iPhone. A rundown of the phones' new features concludes with "3.5mm headphone jack satisfyingly not new," a reference to Apple's decision to eliminate the port in the iPhone 7, which riled many customers.

(Also see: Google Pixel XL vs. iPhone 7 Plus)

Imitation is flattery
Nevertheless, the Pixel line bears a strong resemblance to the iPhone, coming in two sizes and a variety of sleek finishes. The Google Assistant, powered by artificial intelligence software, is a response to Apple's Siri. And as Google prioritizes making its own hardware under Osterloh, its emerging design philosophy echoes Apple's.

Hardware executive Mario Queiroz touted the company's attention to packaging, a feature that the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously obsessed over.

(Also see: Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL: All You Need to Know)

"You want the consumer first of all to have this great experience out of the box in terms of the design of the packaging," Queiroz, a vice president of product management at Google, said in an interview.

He brushed aside concerns that Google's hardware push will pit it against its Android partners. The technology embedded in the Pixel phone is meant to propel Android devices forward, he said.

(Also see: Google Home, Google Wifi, Daydream View, Chromecast Ultra, and Other Announcements)

"It's not a zero sum game," Queiroz said. "We believe that Google can and will be doing both things. Both delivering platforms and building our own products."

Google could find itself squaring off against two extremely deep-pocketed rivals. Apple and Samsung are the largest smartphone handset makers and both have major marketing programs.

Samsung spent at least $50 million (roughly Rs. 332 crores) just on advertising during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to estimates from Kantar Media.

Spokespeople for Apple and Samsung did not respond to requests for comment on Google's launch.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Brilliant low-light photography
  • Fast modern processor
  • Great battery life
  • Google Assistant with localisations for India
  • Bad
  • Not very stylish or eye-catching
  • Expensive
  • No storage expansion
Display 5.50-inch
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Front Camera 8-megapixel
Rear Camera 12.3-megapixel
RAM 4GB
Storage 32GB
Battery Capacity 3450mAh
OS Android 7.1
Resolution 1440x2560 pixels
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