Google shows off its ambitions with the Pixel 7

In 2020, shipments of Google devices worldwide reached only 2.7 million copies. (Photo: 123RF)

BROOKLYN – Google unveiled a new generation of its seventh-generation Pixel phone on Thursday and reaffirmed its new ambitions in the highly competitive smartphone market, in which it has long been a minor player.

Released in 2016, the Pixel was a very late entry into the portable market, nearly a decade after the iPhone (Apple) and seven years after the Galaxy (Samsung), which are two of the best-selling models in the world today.

In 2020, shipments of Google devices worldwide totaled just 2.7 million, compared to 206 million iPhones and 250 million Galaxy.

The low penetration of the Pixel was partly due to the fact that the product was only available in a limited number of countries, less than ten for the Pixel 5.

According to Runar Bjørhovde of the consulting company Canalys, the Pixel models from the very beginning had the qualities to compete with the big players in the sector, “but for a long time they lacked the support from Google to find their place and take part in promotions.”

This reticence from Google is mainly due to the success of its Android operating system, launched in 2008 and adopted by 81% of smartphones shipped in the first half of 2022, according to the consulting firm, according to the analyst. research.

“Selling more Pixels could mean capturing market share from other Android users, which is against Google’s goals,” explains Maurice Clan of Counterpoint Research.

But the Mountain View (California) giant seems to have changed lately, and the Pixel 6, which went on sale just under a year ago, “was a strategic shift for Google in the smartphone world,” says Runar Bjorhovde.

“They have gone from a mid-range device that showcases the power of Android to a flagship affordable product that leverages Android innovation and is complemented by a vast ecosystem of other things,” from watches to tablets.

New internal processor

The Pixel 6 is the first model to feature an integrated Tensor processor, developed by Google itself to improve performance in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The Pixel 7, unveiled Wednesday in Brooklyn, contains the second generation of Tensor, the G2, and can visibly sharpen a blurry photo, erase elements in the background of a shot, or remove background noise from a phone conversation, making a variety of applications possible. with the help of artificial intelligence.

The latter, with the help of machine learning, also allows you to translate into another language in real time the words of the interlocutor during a telephone conversation or significantly improve rendering and contrast for photos of people with dark or black skin.

The marriage of the home chip to the group’s products “represents years of development at Google and a long-term investment in the Pixel family,” said Rick Osterlo, vice president in charge of services and devices, during the presentation.

Alphabet’s subsidiary Alphabet’s equipment change has already paid off, with 6.2 million pixels shipped in the second half of 2021 and the first six months of 2022, up 129% year-on-year, according to Canalys data.

The smartphone doubled its market share in the United States between the second quarter of 2021 and the same period in 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, exemplified by partnering with the NBA to make it the “official fan phone” of the North American professional basketball league.

Another indicator of Google’s new ambitions for its smartphone is the launch of the Pixel 7 in 17 countries, up from the previous generation’s 13.

The tech giant is also positioning its new model at a very competitive price of $599 in the US compared to $800 for the iPhone 14 or Galaxy S22 introduced in September.

“Google has the potential to become a long-term player in the smartphone market,” says Runar Bjorhovde, “but that will depend on its global scale and expanding into new markets to build a profitable business that can continue.”


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