SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google unveiled on Tuesday the third edition of its Pixel smartphone, its first tablet computer and a new Google Home smart speaker that includes a display.
The Google Pixel 3 third generation smartphones are seen on display after a news conference in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
The company hosted 10 media events around the world for the announcements, a hint that it is prepared to expand geographic distribution of the phone line it hopes someday is as popular as Apple Inc’s iPhone.
Google’s free Android software operates most of the world’s smartphones. But the company three years ago branched into hardware so that, like Apple, it could have full control of the performance of its applications and the revenue they generate.
Google has succeeded with lower-priced devices like smart speakers and home routers, but the phones have been a tougher sell.
Google shipped 2.53 million Pixel 2 and 2 XL devices through the nine months ended June 30, garnering less than 1 percent of the global market for smartphones, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
The first Pixel devices hit 2.4 million shipments in the nine months ended June 30, 2017, the firm said.
Limited adoption has reflected Google’s hesitancy to go as wide and big in distributing and marketing the Pixel as Apple, which launched its last two iPhone line-ups in about 50 countries.
Going from a small experiment to a polished product backed by large sales, support and technical teams has been part of Google’s challenge.
Last year’s Pixel 2 arrived with bugs that prompted user complaints about unwanted noises during calls, a crashing camera app and an unexpected screen tint.
Google initially sold the Pixel 2 and its larger sibling, Pixel 2 XL, in six countries, including the United States, Australia, Germany and India, after an unveiling in San Francisco.
This year, Google is hosting events for the Pixel 3 in cities such as New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Singapore, spokesman Kay Oberbeck said.
Google Assistant, the signature virtual helper feature on the Pixel, was available in six languages a year ago and now supports 16.
Privacy and security features also could be top talking points about the Pixel 3 as Google and other big U.S. tech companies try to bounce back from recent data breach scandals.
Google on Tuesday matched rivals Amazon.com Inc and Facebook Inc with a smart speaker that has a display to show visual responses to voice commands.
Unlike its competitors, Google said its Home Hub, priced at $149, does not have a video conferencing camera.
Amazon shipped 21.5 million smart speakers, including those with displays, in the year ended June 30, compared with 18.3 million for Google, according to research firm Canalys.
Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Leslie Adler and Meredith Mazzilli