Oct 4 Google's product launch on Tuesday was as
much a jab at Apple Inc'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
But any gains Google makes with the $649 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 Electronics Co Ltd.
"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
"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
"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.
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.
"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
"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
Samsung spent at least $50 million 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.
(Reporting by Julia Love; Editing by Peter Henderson and Bill