Google presented Thursday the new generation of its Pixel phone, seventh of the name, and confirmed its new ambition on the very competitive smartphone market, of which it was for a long time only a minor player.
Launched in 2016, the Pixel arrived very late in the portable landscape, almost ten years after the iPhone (Apple) and seven years after the Galaxy (Samsung), which are today the two best-selling models in the world.
In 2020, shipments of Google’s device worldwide were just 2.7 million, compared to 206 million iPhone and 250 million Galaxy. The low penetration of the Pixel was, in part, due to the fact that the product was only available in a limited number of countries, less than ten for the Pixel 5.
For Runar Bjørhovde, from Canalys, the Pixel models had, from the outset, the qualities to compete with the big players in the sector, “but they have long lacked support from Google to find their place and take shares. Steps”. This restraint on the part of Google was mainly explained, according to the analyst, by the success of its Android operating system, launched in 2008, and adopted by 81% of smartphones delivered in the first half of 2022, according to the consulting firm. studies.
“Selling more Pixels could mean taking market share from other Android users and that would be contrary to Google’s objectives,” explains Maurice Klaehne of Counterpoint Research.
But the Mountain View (California) giant seems to have evolved recently and the Pixel 6, which went on sale a little less than a year ago, “was a strategic shift for Google in the world of smartphones”, believes Runar Bjorhovde.
“They went from a mid-range device, which showcased the capabilities of Android, to a flagship, affordable product, which took innovation from Android and was complemented by a vast ecosystem of other objects”from the watch to the tablet, details the analyst.
A new in-house processor
The Pixel 6 was the first model to integrate the Tensor processor, designed by Google itself to improve performance in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The Pixel 7, presented Wednesday in Brooklyn, contains the second generation of the Tensor, the G2, and can notably sharpen a blurry photo, erase elements in the background of a snapshot or remove background noise from a telephone conversation, so many applications made possible by artificial intelligence.
The latter, with machine learning, also makes it possible to translate into another language, in real time, the words of an interlocutor during a telephone conversation or to significantly improve rendering and contrast for photos of people dark or black skin.
The marriage of the house chip with the group’s products “represents years of development within Google and a long-term investment in the Pixel family”, said Rick Osterloh, vice president in charge of services and devices, during of the presentation.
The change of gear of the Alphabet subsidiary has already produced results, as 6.2 million Pixels were delivered in the second half of 2021 and the first six months of 2022, an increase of 129% over a year, according to figures from Canalys.
The smartphone doubled its market share in the United States between the second quarter of 2021 and the same period of 2022, but still only reached 2% (0.5% globally in the first half).
To accelerate the rise of the Pixel, Google has also invested more in marketing and promotion, an inflection illustrated by its partnership with the NBA, to make it the “official fan phone” of the North American professional basketball league.
Another indicator of Google’s new ambition for its smartphone, the Pixel 7 will be launched in 17 countries, compared to 13 for the previous generation. The technological juggernaut has also positioned its new model at a very competitive price, or 599 dollars in the United States, against 800 dollars for the iPhone 14 or the Galaxy S22, both unveiled in September.
“Google has the potential to become a long-term player in the smartphone market”according to Runar Bjørhovde, “but that will depend on its scale globally and entering new markets to create a profitable business that can last.”
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Google is going all out with its new Pixel 7 smartphone
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