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Google ad hints of new smartphones to come on Oct. 4

Matt Hamblen | Sept. 21, 2016
Nexus smartphones, with new 'Pixel' name, seen as going mass market

Google released an intriguing new video on prime time TV Monday that hints of an Oct. 4 announcement of two new smartphones -- the Pixel X and Pixel XL.

The 30-second spot, also posted on Google-owned YouTube, shows a search bar rectangle that morphs into the shape of a smartphone accompanied by the 1974 hit single, “Come and Get Your Love” by the rock band Redbone.

A separate website, with much the same content shows the smartphone shape with color photos and a place to sign up for email alerts for more information. Fans of the Google Nexus phones will notice the URL refers to “made by Google” as well. Billboards in New York City are also showing the promotion.

The promotion was also backed up by invitations to some media outlets for a Google event in San Francisco on Oct. 4.

Reports suggest that Google will announce two new smartphones that day, the Pixel X with a 5-in. screen, and the larger 5.5-in. Pixel XL. They would presumably run a custom version of the latest Android OS, 7.0 dubbed Nougat. The phones would be manufactured by HTC.

Other reports indicate Google is dropping the Nexus name for Pixel, and plans to announce other products on Oct. 4, such as its Daydream virtual reality device and Google Home, an answer to the Amazon Echo.

The significance of the video and the reports of new smartphones should not be lost on average smartphone users.

Android phones dominate the global smartphone market, with an 85% share that is predicted to continue through 2020, according to research firm IDC. However, Google and even many Android phone makers, are clearly interested in keeping Android users updated with the latest operating system, along with the latest processors, cameras, sleek designs and other updates.

The Nexus line, going back to the Nexus One in 2009, has been one way that Google could show the best designs and uses for pure Android, even as it has served a small group of customers -- mainly tech-savvy users.

“Google’s goal with Nexus, or now Pixel phones, is the same as always: an alternative to Samsung smartphones in the high end which can really show off Android and Google’s ecosystem,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies.

So far, “Nexus devices have not helped because of the limited sales channel,” meaning they are mainly sold unlocked on the web. Google needs wider distribution, but can’t really afford to work with carriers and mass retailers because doing so would increase Google’s costs and upset other Android phone manufacturers, Milanesi said.

Milanesi said another report that’s circulating is that Google will bring its pure Android approach through Nexus in-house completely and close it off to other partner/manufacturers. “Alienating partners no longer seems to be a concern,” she added.


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