Google makes new hardware push with Pixel phone, takes on Apple, Amazon

Alphabet Inc's Google on Tuesday announced a new "Pixel" smartphone and a virtual reality headset, making a concerted move into consumer electronics and challenging Apple Inc's iPhone at the high end of the more than $400 billion global smartphone market.

Google to rival smartphone makers Apple, Amazon and other Android manufacturers with new Pixel device - Google

A string of announcements, including the $649 Pixel, a new Wi-Fi router and its voice-activated digital assistant for the living room called 'Home', is the clearest sign yet that Google intends to compete directly with Apple, Inc and even manufacturers of phones using its own Android mobile operating system, to create a world of integrated devices and services.

The virtual reality headset raises competition with Facebook Inc, owner of Oculus, while its Home device puts it squarely in the battle to produce a digital assistant that can react to voice commands to tie together products and forge a closer bond with the user.

The new range of gadgets shows Google shifting to tighter control of its products, after years of giving its software to mobile device makers, which has turned Android into the most widely used smartphone system in the world.

Google executives boasted that the Pixel was developed in-house from start to finish, which gives it an in-built advantage in distributing Google's many internet-based services.

The phone itself comes in two sizes, has a high-end camera and a screen with no buttons.

"Aside from the camera, the new Google Pixels are pretty undifferentiated compared to Samsung and iPhone seventh generation phones," said industry analyst Patrick Moorhead.

Google said it would work exclusively with a single carrier in the United States, Verizon Communications, on the Pixel, echoing Apple's agreement to launch the original iPhone with AT&T Inc.

That deal gave Apple unprecedented control over the look of the phone and how it worked. Shares of Alphabet closed up 0.3 percent, while Verizon fell 1.2 percent.

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