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Google launches Pixel smartphones, VR and home devices

Matt Hamblen | Oct. 5, 2016
Big focus placed on new artificial intelligence capabilities

Analyst Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies, was impressed with the Pixel phones, saying they could take advantage of the problems Samsung has had with a recall of its Galaxy Note7 devices over battery problems. "Made by Google could not come at a worse time for Samsung," she tweeted.

Others, however, questioned how well the Google Assistant will perform in real life. "Everything Google showed onstage was very compelling, but as we have seen with most claims in intelligent assistants, rarely, if ever, have they lived up to the hype," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "Google and Google Now are very high quality, but to claim it is a game-changer, Google Assistant must do what it did on stage."

Moorhead also reminded users that as they take advantage of Google Assistant personalized voice searches, Google is mining their personal information as the company creates improved advertising profiles — the lifeblood of Google's existence.

Overall, Moorhead said the Pixel devices are "pretty undifferentiated compared to both Samsung and iPhone seventh-generation phones." He said he was surprised that Google didn't put two rear cameras in the devices, as that is rapidly becoming a standard on premium phones.

Some analysts viewed Google's A.I. news as more noteworthy than the new smartphones and other hardware.

"It was clear that Google is laying the groundwork for A.I. to be the next major platform upon which Google will build its future products, whether that's Google Assistant… or Home. Google's advances in speech-to-text and text-to-speech provide the company with a leg up in the conversational user interface that underpins many of the A.I.-based applications," said Gartner analyst Mark Hung.

The Google Home device wasn't well differentiated from Amazon's Echo, said Jack Narcotta, an analyst at Technology Business Research.

"I wonder if there's really value for this type of home device outside of a niche base of tech-savvy consumers," he said.


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