Google's answer to Apple's iPhone has always been the stuff of tech industry lore. Now it's here. But it's got an unfamiliar moniker.
by @richardjnieva / October 5, 2016 2:17 PM PDT
Why the Pixel phone isn't called the Google Phone
October 5, 2016 2:17 PM PDT
by Richard Nieva @richardjnieva
It's finally here: the Google Phone.
Well, not quite. It's officially called "Pixel, Phone by Google," and the search giant announced it Tuesday during a much-hyped event in San Francisco.
The Pixel, available with either a 5-inch or 5.5-inch display, is a grown up Google phone, meant to compete with the top brass of the smartphone world, including Samsung and Apple. It's a sharp strategic shift for Google, which has until now been content with selling phones through its Nexus program. For that, Google farmed out some of the hardware design to other manufacturers -- like LG, Asus and Huawei -- who put their brands on the phone alongside Google.
For tech watchers, the Pixel ends years of speculation about when Google would actually build a premium phone. The rumors started the moment Google bought a tiny mobile software startup called Android in 2005, a move that eventually pit it against Apple's iOS software for the iPhone. It prompted Apple's Steve Jobs to declare he was willing to spend every bit of his company's cash on fighting a "thermonuclear" war to destroy Android.
The phone has Google's signature G on the back.
James Martin/CNET So when Apple announced its own foray into the smartphone market in 2007 with the iPhone, we knew something was missing -- an archrival. Coke has Pepsi, the Lakers have the Celtics, Tupac had Biggie. The iPhone needed a worthy competitor, someone even more formidable than Samsung, the world's biggest maker of phones.
That's why a Google phone has been a long time coming. "When we finally decided to do it, everyone was like, 'What took you bozos so long?'" Brian Rokowski, a Google vice president of product management, said in an interview Tuesday.
But dreams of this hypothetical clash of the tech titans typically envisioned the iPhone ( a name that Apple bought from Cisco, by the way ) fighting against theGoogle Phone. Or maybe the Gphone, as Android cofounder Andy Rubin called it in 2007 . Something you could picture in lights on a marquee -- or in headlines on review face-offs.
Instead, we got iPhone versus...Pixel. It's not exactly epic, like Superman versus Batman (the superheros, not the movie).
Google insists Pixel is the right name for its new phone.
"For us, it's always represented the best of hardware and software designed and built by Google," Rick Osterloh, Google's hardware chief, said on stage Tuesday. That's because Pixel isn't a new name. There are already Pixel Chromebook laptops and tablets that Google designed in-house.