Google unveiled a whole bunch of new hardware today, including the Pixel Phone, Google Home, Google WiFi, Chromecast Ultra, and Daydream VR. But one of the most significant things about these new devices is that Google never mentioned the manufacturers who helped build any of them.
While Google is best known as a software company, Google has released a few hardware products under its own name including Pixel Chromebooks, the Pixel C tablet, and its Chromecast products.
But up until now the company has never released its own smartphones… not really. Sure, there were the Google Nexus phones, but those were always pretty clearly designed in partnership with companies like HTC, LG, Samsung, and Huawei. Now it looks like the Nexus era is coming to an end.
It’s been pretty widely reported that the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones were built by HTC. But Google is selling them under its own brand name and the HTC logo is nowhere to be seen on either phone.
The Verge reports that Google currently has “no plans” for any new Nexus devices, which suggests that this will be the model going forward for any new hardware from Google. It’ll either be designed and built in-house, or Google will work with a (somewhat) anonymous hardware partner and slap only its own name on the finished product.
So don’t expect to see any new Nexus phones, tablets, or Nexus Player devices in the near future.
Google hasn’t necessarily ruled out returning to the Nexus model in the future. But it seems like the company is reasonably confident that it can sell its own phones at this point without stepping on the toes of companies like Samsung, LG, and HTC which also sell Android phones.
Whether customers are willing to spend $649 – $829 on Google Pixel phones remains to be seen. Sure, that’s about what you’d pay for a top-of-the-line unlocked phone from other device makers, but in some markets (including the US), there are plenty of options for cheaper smartphones with decent specs these days. And although it’s not true that all previous Nexus phones were relatively inexpensive, they sort have a reputation as being cheaper than competing phones (because some models have been).
Google is offering financing options for its Pixel phones, along with anything else the company sells that’s priced at $149 or higher.
Google’s new(ish) move to sell hardware under its own brand doesn’t stop with smartphones. The company had partnered with Asus and TP-Link to sell OnHub wireless routers in the past, but this year Google is introducing its own system called Google WiFi.
And while the Daydream virtual reality platform is open for anyone who wants to make compatible headsets, Google will be selling its own DayDream View headset for $79. And then there’s Google Home, a $129 Amazon Echo-like device that taps into Google Assistant.
Overall Google seems to be taking a more Apple-like approach to hardware than it had in the past: want the best way to experience Google’s software? Then buy Google’s hardware. But unlike Apple, Google continues to make its software available for other phone, tablet, and connected device makers to use which means that Google’s hardware won’t be the only hardware that can interact with the company’s software ecosystem.
Update: Just in case it wasn’t clear that Google’s going all-in on its new hardware, the company has removed the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and a bunch of other devices from the Google Store. The company is also promising to continue supporting its Nexus products… at least for now.