On the 4th of October, Google announced the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, designed entirely in-house by Google. Unlike the Nexus series, which were co-branded partnerships and marketed as “reference platforms” for its partners, the Pixel is entirely Google’s own.
With the Pixel, Google is going all-in as a smartphone manufacturer; taking on inventory, managing supply chains and distribution. Manufacturing is outsourced to HTC, but there’s only one logo on the back: ‘G.’
At launch, the Pixel enjoys some priviledges. It’s the first and only phone to run Android 7.1, Google Assistant and the Pixel Launcher. And unlike other Android phones, the Pixel will always be able to get the latest Android update.
You have to wonder how Google’s Android partners are reacting to the Pixel, since the smartphone business is ruthless enough without Google muscling in on hardware margins. These will be interesting times ahead for Android and its friends.