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What #MadeByGoogle really means

Steven Max Patterson | Oct. 6, 2016
Google isn’t becoming a consumer electronics company despite its announcement of five new hardware products

More engineering and more expensive high-performance components have gone into the Pixel than would be required even for a flagship to make VR apps perform well while keeping the price in the flagship price range. A smartphone maker would not ordinarily pay for more expensive VR-ready components unless they were investing in a new application like Google is in VR.

Google Wi-Fi and Chromecast Ultra: These two devices are best explained together. Home Wi-Fi routers aren’t keeping pace with the steadily rising number of consumer devices in the home that stream audio and video. And they are hard to set up.

Google does not want to be a cable company like Comcast, but it does want users to stream more audio and video content from its Play Store and video content from YouTube, creating a bigger workload as content shifts from HD to Ultra-HD 4K resolution and 3D VR video. For most consumers, buying the right routers, configuring them and setting them up, and placing them throughout the home to provide a strong, evenly distributed Wi-Fi signal is beyond their skill levels.

Google’s Wi-Fi business model differs from that of a typical router company that tries to make a small profit in the cutthroat router market. Google has an incentive to solve the setup, configuration and signal distribution problem for the consumer because a better, faster and evenly distributed Wi-Fi signal will enable users to stream video and audio, as well as stream YouTube where its margins are much greater compared to routers.

Google Wi-Fi automatically configures multiple access points. Network management by its smart Network Assist automatically helps avoid Wi-Fi congestion and transitions the user to the closest Wi-Fi point for the best signal.

Chromecast Ultra fits into this network scheme. It is almost twice as fast as the second-generation Chromecast, and it supports streaming of 4K video to the latest high-resolution TVs and Daydream VR headsets.

Google doesn’t want to be Apple or Comcast. It wants billions of users to spend more time in front of every type of screen and immersed in VR consuming its content. Right now, the hardware needs to be optimized for this task. If successful, many consumer device makers will build devices like these to expand Google’s ecosystem.


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