Google competes with Apple with its new line of Pixel phones, watches and earphones

Google has taken a big step towards pushing the Pixel family of products up on a path already paved by Apple and a host of blockbuster devices.

The latest additions to its six-year-old Pixel brand will include Google’s first smartwatch to build on the features and experiences it gained from last year’s acquisition of Fitbit, which is worth $2.1 billion.

Targeted for a fall release, the new watch marks Google’s first major attempt to make its mark in wearable technology, a market that has been growing steadily since Apple introduced its smartwatch in 2014. So far, Google’s presence in the smartwatch market has been limited to creating a version of the operating system Android for mobile devices for watches made by other companies.

Google has also used its annual Developers I/O Conference to promote the Pixel tablet that is due to launch next year to compete with Apple’s market-leading iPad.

Besides showing off its upcoming devices, Google has also previewed the next version of its Android operating system, which powers most of the world’s smartphones outside of Apple’s iPhone. He also highlighted several developments in the field of artificial intelligence.

Google’s focus on new devices means that the company that became famous for its dominant search engine and other popular internet software is confident it now has a better handle on how devices are designed and manufactured. It released its first Pixel smartphone in 2016.

β€œIt takes a long time to build capabilities, and now you see very clearly that the technology is being expressed through many different products,” Rick Osterloh, CEO of Google’s hardware division, told reporters earlier this week. “It was like an iceberg in that you didn’t see much of what was going on below, but now you can really see all of this stuff floating on the surface.”

Tong Nguyen, an analyst at Gartner, said that since it already brings in more than $200 billion annually in digital advertising sales, Google can afford to branch out in different directions and find new ways to connect with people.

Adding more products to the Pixel range “gives them another point of contact to learn things and experience things with people more directly,” Nguyen said. “Now, they are not only in your pocket, but now they can be on your wrist, and in your ears as well.”

Ahead of the launch of its smartwatch, Google will be fitting its selection of Pixel phones with a new budget model called the 6a coming out in late July, along with its first set of wireless earbuds to include noise cancellation.

The Pixel 6a will include Google’s top processor but will sell for $449 β€” 25% off the slightly more advanced Pixel 6 released last fall. Pixel Buds Pro will retail for $199. Both products are scheduled to launch on July 28.

Tong Nguyen, an analyst at Gartner, said that since it already brings in more than $200 billion annually in digital advertising sales, Google can afford to branch out in different directions and find new ways to connect with people.

Adding more products to the Pixel range “gives them another point of contact to learn things and experience things with people more directly,” Nguyen said. “It’s not just in your pocket, but now it can be on your wrist, and in your ears as well.”

The watch will be the first product to test Google’s privacy pledge for regulatory approval for the Fitbit acquisition 16 months ago. As part of the deal, Google promised not to collect health and fitness information accumulated through Fitbit’s features to sell the digital ads that generate most of its revenue β€” a commitment the company said it would honor with its new Pixel Watch.

Although still not as popular anywhere as phones, smartwatches have continued to make headway with expected worldwide shipments of 31.3 million units this year, up from 18.5 million in 2019 before the pandemic that helped drive demand for Internet connected devices.

Even after pouring billions of dollars into the hardware division that now employs thousands of people, Google hasn’t made much progress.

Despite the occasional glowing reviews, Pixel smartphones hold less than 1% of the global hardware market, according to international research firm Data Corp. The first model in nearly six years. By contrast, Apple shipped more than 56 million iPhones during the first three months of this year alone, according to IDC.

But IDC analyst Nabila Popal said there are signs that the Pixel smartphone line is starting to gain momentum. She believes the Pixel 6 would have sold better than it already would had it not been for the lack of chips that have hurt a variety of products, raising the chances that the lower-priced 6a model would be received “very well”.

For its part, Google says that the Pixel 6 surpassed sales of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 together within the first six months of its introduction to the market.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press

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