Google today officially announced their newest flagships, the Pixel and Pixel XL. But while the company is no stranger to phone announcements, their new phones signal a new direction in the company’s strategy, a pivot that’s sure to make its longtime OEM partners like Samsung and LG a little uncomfortable.
Google is now in the phone making business.
Google’s new devices were conceptualized, designed and tested entirely within Google, which is a big departure from their previous partnerships with brands like Huawei. While Google doesn’t have the supply chain or manufacturing capability of their OEM partners yet, it’s very likely that they’ll be able to put together their own device or design their own chips much like how Apple does it.
With Google in control of the design and conceptualization of their own phones, the company now has a solid foundation to showcase their software efforts, like their AI-driven Google Assistant, and new VR platform Daydream. And since the company now has more control over hardware, they can now start plotting software projects alongside the hardware that would eventually run them.
With Pixel, Google has more control over their future, but that comes at a cost – its OEM partners certainly won’t appreciate the fact that the company that makes and powers the OS that’s vital for their phones’ operation also compete with them on the hardware front. Google said that there’s a firewall between their internal Pixel team and their hardware partners, to prevent technology from leaking.