Google takes on rivals with Pixel phone


Google took on rivals Apple, Samsung and Amazon in a new push into hardware Tuesday, launching premium-priced Pixel smartphones and a slew of other devices showcasing artificial intelligence prowess.

The unveiling of Google’s in-house designed phone came as part of an expanded hardware move by the US company, which also revealed details about its new “home assistant” virtual reality headset and Wi-Fi router system.

The San Francisco event marked a shift in strategy for Google, which is undertaking a major drive to make Google Assistant artificial intelligence a futuristic force spanning all kinds of internet-linked devices.

“We are evolving from a mobile-first world to an AI-first world,” Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said.

“Our goal is to build a personal Google for each and every user.”

Rick Osterloh, head of a new hardware division at the California-based internet giant, added, “We believe that the next big innovation is going to take place at the intersection of hardware and software, with AI at the center.”

Pixel will be available with a five- or 5.5-inch display, starting at $649 for US customers, similar to the latest iPhone models. Pre-orders began Tuesday in Australia, Canada, Germany, Britain and the United States.

By using its own name on handsets, Google is aiming for a bigger slice of the competitive smartphone market, dominated by Samsung and Apple.

Until now, Google’s flagship devices had used the Nexus brand with hardware partners that have included China’s Huawei and South Korea’s LG. The California group also sought to expand in the smartphone market by purchasing Motorola in 2011, but sold the unit less than three years later.