SAN FRANCISCO – Google may be getting serious about selling its own hardware gadgets.
The search giant will ramp up its consumer electronics strategy with expected announcements of new gadgets including new smartphones and an internet-connected personal-assistant for the home similar to Amazon’s Echo speaker. All are intended to showcase Google’s software and online services.
Tech blogs are reporting the company is now planning to launch two smartphone models under a new brand, Pixel, and Google has hinted it may invest in an extensive marketing campaign intended to introduce the phones to the mass market.
Android already powers the majority of smartphones sold around the world. But Samsung, the biggest maker of Android phones, has increasingly been adding more of its own software — even its own Samsung Pay mobile wallet — on the phones it sells. Another big rival, Apple, has built its own services, such as online maps and its own Siri personal assistant, to replace Google’s apps on the iPhone, as Google is also likely to begin selling a voice-activated “smart speaker” called Home.
The “Home” device will feature Google’s digital “Assistant” service, a voice-activated personal butler that can search the internet, play music or perform other useful tasks. “Assistant” is the company’s answer to similar concierge services from rivals, including Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. The leading tech companies are all competing to assist consumers in their online activities such as shopping, since that gives the companies a better chance of selling advertising or other services.