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Google Gives Huawei a US Device Boost

Dan Jones
9/29/2015

Huawei's gadget mojo in the US got a boost Tuesday with a Google Nexus flagship smartphone launch amongst a deluge of other devices and software updates that the search giant unveiled.

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is already the third-largest smartphone maker in the world after Samsung Corp. and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), according to IDC . The company, however, has previously been accused of not taking the US market -- where it sells phones directly to consumers rather than through carriers -- seriously.

The new all-metal Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Nexus 6P smartphone could help to change that. The 5.7-inch screen device has a 12.3 megapixel camera with large pixels that Google says will let the camera take better pictures at night or indoors in lower-light conditions. The 6P will be available later in October, starting at $499 for the 32GB model, up to $649 for the 128GB version.


For more on past smartphone launches, visit the mobile devices/smartphone section here on Light Reading.


The 6P is just one of the many device and software updates Google made Tuesday. A second smartphone, the 5X -- from LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) -- rounds out the new Nexus line-up.

Google is also building on the success of its Chromecast TV streaming dongle with new and revamped models. The search giant revealed that it has sold more then 20 million of the gadgets since the initial launch in 2013. (See Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run and Chromecast & the Battle for the Living Room.)

Now, the Chromecast TV dongle has been revamped with a new rounded look and updated apps. Google is going after Sonos and others that produce dedicated -- and often expensive -- audio systems for streaming music in the home.

Google is introducing a $35 Chromecast Music unit that connects to traditional stereo speakers and allows them to interface with PCs and other devices in the home and stream music via WiFi. Its logic is that that only 5% of US homes have speakers that can connect to the Internet, whereas most every household probably has a stereo system or two knocking about.

Google people talk in depth about Chromecast and the other devices in this YouTube launch video, if you have an hour and a half to kill!

[Ed note: Google originally had live chat comments scrolling on the right-hand side of the video but that option was stopped late in the presentation... possibly because they were so needlessly personal and unpleasant?]

If that wasn't enough, Google also introduced a gaming-friendly two-in-one tablet -- the Pixel C -- with a detachable $149 keyboard. The high-end tablet looks more like a Microsoft Surface device than an iPad, although Google must hope that it fares more like the Apple tablet in the marketplace. The tablet will arrive in the coming months.

You can top off this rich stew of Android devices with the official launch of version 6 of the operating system next week. Google says that a new power-saving mode can eek up to 30% more battery life out of existing Nexus devices. (See Google Updates Android, Delays Project Ara, Walks the Robots.)

Google didn't forget its own Project Fi virtual mobile network operator (MVNO) project either. Both the new Nexus devices are unlocked when bought and can be used with the Google service. (See Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here.)

In fact, if you had been wondering if Google was going to get out the of the device business, the answer appears to be: Not in the foreseeable future, chum.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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kq4ym
kq4ym
10/9/2015 | 10:21:44 AM
Re: Motivation?
I still look for the year smart phones (from Google maybe?) will sell for half of current prices. While Google continues to innovate, the word is on some gadgets like Chromecast, don't bother to buy it if you already have the older version, but do buy if you don't have one now. That might be the key to all the new gadgets, get them out at low prices ($35 for Chromecast!) and capture the market of folks who haven't yet purchased the latest and greatest stuff.
DHagar
DHagar
10/6/2015 | 1:21:21 PM
Re: Motivation?
Kruz, thanks for that insight.  Sounds like they have good momentum!
Kruz
Kruz
10/6/2015 | 1:05:11 AM
Re: Motivation?
They are more and more exposed and aware of innovation - mind you, majority of the phones are now made in China, and this know how and culture is growing among its population. They are committed to R&D and with the right managers, they will make it through and start to "create". It wouldnt be long before they attract the top designers, developers, etc..

And if wages in China are on the way up, production will be(and is also) shifted to neighboring countries. But again, Chineese OEMs will always benefit from an abundant workforce and will always have the home court advantage with home being equal to 1/5 of the worldwide population.

 
DHagar
DHagar
10/5/2015 | 12:25:34 PM
Re: Motivation?
Dan, makes sense.  If they can adapt and develop those capabilities, they should become a strong competitor.
DanJones
DanJones
10/5/2015 | 11:36:01 AM
Re: Motivation?
One drag factor on that is that Chinese wages are rising, so the idea of China as a place to make gadgets cheaply is going to go away. That might motivate more focus on innovation and design though, I guess.
DHagar
DHagar
10/1/2015 | 1:19:58 PM
Re: Motivation?
Kruz, I agree with your assessment ...."Since the ecosystem is available, they definitely need to work on the design as it all comes down to this. Chinese OEMs are creating excellent devices and imho, I beleive they will dominate the scene in the upcoming years."

They have the motivation and I think they will be able to compete.  The added question I have is will they ever gain the ability to "create" and develop - i.e., Apple, or will they always be in the production mode?
Kruz
Kruz
10/1/2015 | 9:05:46 AM
Re: Motivation?
To embellish the phone and make it more durable. The trend is dicated by Apple and failing to jump on board is failing to understand the market and suceed; ie approach it like the old Nokia, the current Microsoft or Blackberry. 

The phone has went along way from being just a phone, it's a business tool, an accessory, a sign of sucess, a social status, etc... long gone are the days when a phone was used to talk :)
Gabriel Brown
Gabriel Brown
10/1/2015 | 8:55:43 AM
Re: Motivation?
I'm okay with plastic covers for phones -- metal seems like overkill. It's become a way to signal luxury, or premium, but... it's a phone!

Presumably carbon fibre, kevlar, goretex?, and so on, have been tried. 

A concern I have is the lifespan of smartphones and the extent to which they are properly recycled. Same for a lot of consumer electronics.
Kruz
Kruz
10/1/2015 | 7:49:10 AM
Re: Motivation?
But the 5X is still a phone made of polycarbonate in times where aluminium, magnesium (upcoming S7) are becoming a standard. I still wonder why it is still an option now for a flaship device made by Google.
Gabriel Brown
Gabriel Brown
10/1/2015 | 6:55:51 AM
Re: Motivation?
Huawei makes some good phones, but I agree the "skin" (Emotion UI) it puts on Android doesn't really add much, and in my experience removes some critical features -- so this new phone looks like a big deal.

As a Nexus 5 owner (my main phone), I'm thinking of upgarding to the 5X made by LG because its a size I like, and it's cheaper...

But if I get some hands-on time with the Huawei Nexus 6P and like it, I'd think about getting one. 

I had the Huawei Mate 7 which is HUGE... It's a decent device, but the Huawei "skin" meant I didn't really get on with it. For example, there was no way to import my contacts from Google!

Might get a Chromecast this time around -- the audio one especially.
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