Google takes on Apple, Amazon with new hardware push

Tue Oct 4, 2016 7:40pm EDT
 
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By Julia Love

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google on Tuesday announced a new "Pixel" smartphone and a suite of new consumer electronics products for the home, planting itself firmly in the hardware business and challenging Apple Inc's iPhone at the high end of the $400 billion global smartphone market.

The 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 - is the clearest sign yet that Google intends to compete head-to-head with Apple, Amazon.com Inc and even manufacturers of phones using its own Android mobile operating system.

Company executives, echoing Apple's longstanding philosophy, said they were striving for tighter integration of hardware and software.

"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.

Under the new structure, the company has begun to take a much more integrated approach to things like supply chain management and design, added Mario Queiroz, a vice president of product management.

"The learnings from one product are benefiting another product," he said.

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.

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(L to R) Google Wifi, Google Chromecast Ultra, Google Home, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel and Google Dreamview VR are displayed during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 4, 2016.   REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach