Industry insiders back Google to challenge with Pixel device

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Google’s first own-branded handsets can help it compete with Samsung and Apple 

Leading industry players have backed Google to compete with Apple and Samsung in the premium smartphone segment with its new Pixel handset.

Google launched the premium device, available in five-inch and 5.5-inch variants, on October 4. It will be available from Carphone Warehouse and EE in the UK from October 20 and is the company’s first own-branded handset, having worked with HTC, Samsung and Huawei in the last six years for its Nexus range.

A major feature is Google Assistant, similar to Apple’s Siri. Unlike its rival, it uses data from the owner’s Google history to tailor information. It can also be paired with Google Home, an IoT device that lets users control connected devices in the home.

Google vice president of global operations Ana Corrales confirmed to Mobile News the company was targeting the premium smartphone market, claiming Google Assistant enables it to offer “features others can’t”.

According to IDC, Internet of Things technologies will be worth £1.3 trillion by 2020 as more consumer products become available. Carphone Warehouse managing director Jeremy Fennell backed these features to help Google compete with the market leaders.

“There is demand for customers who want this kind of experience. The phone is at the centre of your life and you can extend that through AI and IoT products.

“This can help them compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung. It’s a product that’s differentiated enough and there’s always an appetite for new technology like this.”

Fickle industry

Vodafone partner Maintel group strategy director Rufus Grig agreed, claiming the premium market is currently lacking innovation. “It’s a fickle industry and the iPhone 7 is unexciting. Now is a good time to release any new device into that market, because it does seem pretty uninspiring.”

GfK technology director Imran Choudhary concluded: “It certainly has a chance of competing against Samsung and Apple purely because of its presence and size. If not this year, then certainly the next.

“They have really good brand awareness among customers and the new phone has enough features in terms of differentiation. They’re capable of taking on the more premium brands.”

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