Google to unveil new Pixel phones

Google on Oct 4 is expected to unveil its next generation of Pixel smartphones that will use the company’s search capabilities and data across its popular apps. 

The new phone may not match some of the bells and whistles of Apple’s new iPhone X, such as a way to unlock the phone through facial mapping and an edge-to-edge display, several analysts said. But the phone is expected to come in below the US$999 price tag of the X. 

The Mountain View company began selling Pixel phones last year, with mixed results. While analysts generally praised the phone’s usability, shipping times were as long as six to eight weeks because it was only sold in a few locations, and demand outstripped supply. 

Pixel phones represent less than half a percent of the global smartphone market that is dominated by competitors like Samsung and Apple, which control 21% and 14.5% respectively, according to research firm IDC. 

“The emphasis will be on how Google, with its own services and software, enhances the user experience,” said Wayne Lam, a principal analyst with the research firm IHS Markit. 

Analysts expect Google to unveil other new devices, including a smaller version of its Internet-connected speaker Google Home. It will also show a new version of Daydream View, its virtual reality headset that works with smartphones, on Wednesday. 

Google recently underscored its commitment to building its own devices by announcing plans to spend US$1.1bil (RM4.64bil) to acquire roughly 2,000 employees from Taiwanese tech firm HTC. The acquisition caught some people by surprise after Google had sold its Motorola Mobility business three years ago. 

Analysts said Google pursued the HTC deal to gain more control over how its Android operating system is used across devices and to maintain its foothold in the smartphone market. 

“If you have control of the software and hardware, you have better control of your destiny,” said Ramon Llamas, an IDC research manager. 

Google did not return a request for comment. It will hold the event the morning of Oct 4 in San Francisco. — San Francisco Chronicle/Tribune News Service