Google is reportedly trying to test the premium smartphone market for Android by launching its own premium smartphone by the end of this year. The move is being considered as an effort to dethrone the premium smartphone giant Apple’s iPhone. Unlike Nexus smartphones where Google only takes care of the software and hardware was developed by the select OEMs, the stated smartphone would be a masterpiece of Google alone. The company would oversee design, software and manufacturing of its rumoured smartphone. The company is betting on modular phones as well under its much talked-about ‘Project Ara’.
Android platform has 1.4 billion active users worldwide. Apart from that, the Android giant powers 4 out of 5 smartphones across the globe but lacks penetration in the premium smartphone segment where Apple is dominant. Android fragmentation has been a big challenge for Google from the beginning and by developing its own smartphone the ‘consistency’ factor will be improved to a great extent. Additionally, the company will have more command over its software and services like Google Play store and its search engine.
Recently, CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, said that the company was “investing more effort” in smartphone segment as the next Nexus phone is expected to be manufactured by HTC. Pichai, however, didn’t spill the beans on the betting on its own smartphone then.
The smartphone platform of Google is continually bombarded with malware attacks every now and then. Nearly 84.1% of the total smartphones in the world are powered by Android, making it the most favorite among hackers. To counter the growing concerns of information security in Android devices, the company recently decided to increase the rewards for the ones who will successfully point out the vulnerability in the Android OS.
Quite recently, the software giant has started focusing on hardware segment as well. The Silicon Valley behemoth has earlier developed best-selling TV streaming stick – Chromecast, Chromebooks that overshadowed the Mac sales in the US and Google Home assistant. The company has also hired Rick Osterloh, former President of Motorola, as their new hardware division lead thus, ripening its ambitions in the hardware market well.
The company’s previous attempt to control its mobile OS ecosystem akin Apple’s iOS in the past backfired drastically. The Android One project, though marketed quite well, saw less adoption rate and in turn has to stop unceremoniously.
The company is also accused of taking advantage of the monopoly it has in Android segment according to European Commission by integrating its search engine on Chrome on mobile devices. The commission may fine the software giant a 10% of its $75 billion annual revenue.
Google’s farsighted ambitions
Google wants the control of Android ecosystem similar to Apple but Android fragmentation is the biggest road block to achieving that. Though, the dominant OS powers a huge number of smartphones in the world, a mammoth 72% of the Android smartphones around the world still run on Android KitKat or previous versions. In contrast, Apple’s latest iOS 9 runs on 89% of the total iPhones in the world.
Adding salt to the wounds, a whopping 72% of the smartphone buyers prefer to buy an older version of Android smartphone instead of selecting the latest Android OS powered device. Thus, it becomes extremely difficult for Google to provide a seamless experience on all devices to all Android.
Google also allows smartphone OMEs to load the Android devices with their customized UI. Lately, OEMs have started betting big time on customized UIs to provide a unique and fresh experience of their device buyers. However, the flip side of is hurting Google badly. OEMs always hold the release of latest Android OS for few months to buy time to optimise, test and make its customised UI compatible with it. The practice is further complication the whole Android fragmentation issue for Google.
The other reason why Google is reportedly launching its own smartphone is the not-so-encouraging market feelers towards upcoming iPhone 7. Quite a number of analysts believe that the upcoming iPhone 7 from Apple won’t succeed to lure customers. The company is more focused on the iPhone i.e. iPhone 8 scheduled for the tenth anniversary of iPhone in 2017. iPhone 8 would be the best device that Apple has ever made and would consist of a number of state-of-the-art innovations. Therefore, Google’s own smartphone that is rumoured to debut by the end of this year may easily capture some of the Apple iPhone users as the slated iPhone 7 may be just an average device to compete with.
The Android giant has recently toppled Apple’s Macbook sales and seems ready to give a hard time to the Cupertino giant’s flagship iPhone by launching its own smartphone.