Is Google Really Planning to Attack the iPhone this Fall with a Google made Smartphone beyond Nexus?
Google's CEO Sundar Pichai said last month that Google was "investing more effort" into phones, although he seemed to clarify that they would continue to support the Google-backed Nexus smartphones and smartphone projects like the latest from Lenovo that will introduce the first phone based on project Tango – not make phones of their own. But actions speak louder than words and earlier this year Google hired Rick Osterloh, the former president of Motorola, to lead a new hardware division in a sign of its growing ambitions. At the time, smartphones didn't seem to be a priority for the new division, but sources now say that's changed.
In a new report published by The Telegraph today we learn that sources have told them that "Google is planning a shake-up of the smartphone market by releasing its own handset, a move that would tighten its grip on mobile software and see it compete directly with the iPhone."
According to Telegraph sources, "The technology giant is in discussions with mobile operators about releasing a Google-branded phone that will extend the company's move into hardware." To be clear, it's a move beyond the Nexus approach with partners.
Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight stated that Google is "concerned that Android is fragmenting, that it needs to become a more controlled platform. I think they'll seek to control it more, more like Apple."
Although Android runs on the majority of smartphones sold globally, Apple still dominates the lucrative high-end of the market. This is where Google is likely to focus their attention on to further beat on Apple's market share.
Google wants to deliver a higher end experience where Android updates are delivered to end users in a timely manner. In the end, a senior source told The Telegraph that the new device will be released by the end of the year and will see Google take more control over design, manufacturing and software.
With the smartphone market slowing down in general and in China specifically, Google aiming to attack the iPhone directly in a year where Apple is only delivering a minor iPhone upgrade could spell trouble for Apple in a minor way.
While a Google smartphone is unlikely to sway Apple fans to switch, it could very well stop Apple's ability to continually win over Android switchers. Apple's CEO loudly claims at every financial conference call of late that they're winning Android switchers in record numbers.
During Apple's conference call in April, Tim Cook noted that "Despite challenges there were a number of encouraging signs during the quarter. Our installed base of over 1 billion active devices continues to grow strongly. We added a huge number of Android switchers and new to Mac customers and we generated very strong growth from services."
More specifically Cook added that "We continue to see a very high level of customer switching to iPhone from Android and other operating systems. In fact, we added more switchers from Android and other platforms in the first half of this year than any other six-month period ever."
So at the end of the day, while Google entering the smartphone market with their own smartphone could be seen as a direct attack on Apple, in context it's really about Google persuading their Androiders fans to stay on board and not switch over to the iPhone because of software update issues.
Unless Google has a killer app in the wings like a having Android completely run by Google Assistant, stopping the bleeding of Android switchers to the iPhone is about the best that they'll be able to accomplish against Apple.
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