Google adds some Pixels

Internet giant Google ramped up its involvement in the consumer hardware space with the launch of new Pixel branded smartphones and tablets as well as a home hub.

The Pixel 3 and its XL variant offer both an industrial design and spec upgrade on their predecessors. Initial impressions indicate the redesign is well received and the spec upgrades are significant. There also seems to be more AI stuff going on, including a call screening functions that taps into Duplex technology to save you having to interact with a caller if you’re not sure about them.

Google debuted a new device category in the form of the Pixel Slate – a tablet running Chrome OS that seems to be positioned as a direct competitor to Microsoft’s Surface product range, with an emphasis on hybrid laptop functionality. Once more initial takes seem positive, especially about its attempt to be the best of both worlds, although the full range of requisite peripherals and accessories does make it an expensive proposition.

Lastly we have the Home Hub, which is an AI-driven smart speaker with a 7-inch screen that will compete with equivalent products from Amazon and Facebook. One big difference is that Google is making a virtue of it not having a camera installed in an apparent bid for people to take it into the bedroom or even the bog. There’s also a physical mute switch to prevent the device listening to you, which seems like a good say to allay fears about being spied on by Google, but does call into question what the point of the device is.

“Our goal with these new products, as always, is to create something that serves a purpose in people’s lives – products that are so useful they make people wonder how they ever lived without them,” said Rick Osterloh, VP of Hardware at Google. “The simple yet beautiful design of these new devices continue to bring the smarts of the technology to the forefront, while providing users with a bold piece of hardware.”

The Pixel 3 starts at £739, with the XL coming in at £869. The Slate starts at £549 without peripherals, while the Home Hub will set you back £139. Google has managed to throw down the gauntlet to the majority of the consumer tech world with one set of launches, which is fun, but time will tell whether any of them are able to claim significant market share. Here’s a vid.

 

Apple sold 16 million iPhone X in Q1 – far more than any other smartphone model

Research firm Strategy Analytics reckons Apple managed to shift 16 million units of its flagship smartphone last quarter, defying pessimistic reports.

At the start of this week we reported on a rumour that Apple had significantly cut order for the X with its manufacturers because it was struggling to shift what it already had. That rumour turned out to be pretty much rubbish when Apple announced solid numbers a couple of days later and SA’s estimate serve to reinforce that impression.

“We estimate the Apple iPhone X shipped 16.0 million units and captured 5 percent market share worldwide in Q1 2018,” said Juha Winter of SA. “For the second quarter running, the iPhone X remains the world’s most popular smartphone model overall, due to a blend of good design, sophisticated camera, extensive apps, and widespread retail presence for the device.

“Apple has now shifted almost 50 million iPhone X units worldwide since commercial launch in November 2017. The Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus shipped 12.5 and 8.3 million units, respectively, for second and third place. The previous-generation iPhone 7 shipped a respectable 5.6 million units for fourth place. Combined together, Apple today accounts for four of the world’s six most popular smartphone models.”

You might expect the rest of the list to be occupied by the Samsung but you would be sorely mistaken. The fifth best-selling smartphone model globally was the Xiaomi Redmi 5A, which is not a bad effort considering that’s mainly direct (as opposed to operator-subsidised) sales. Let’s see if Xiaomi’s strategic alliance with Hutchison helps it climb the table further. Then, finally, comes the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus which, to be fair, hasn’t been shipping for long.

Linda Sui, Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Xiaomi has become wildly popular across India and China,” Said SA’s Linda Sui. “Xiaomi is selling a huge volume of smartphones through online channels, with key retail partners including Flipkart and JD.”

“Samsung’s new flagships, Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, only started shipping toward the end of the first quarter, but shipments are already off to a very good start,” said SA’s Woody Oh. “We expect the S9 Plus to become the best-selling Android smartphone globally in the second quarter of 2018.”

Global Smartphone Shipments by Model (Millions of Units) Q1 ’17 Q1 ’18
1.  Apple iPhone X 0.0 16.0
2.  Apple iPhone 8 0.0 12.5
3.  Apple iPhone 8 Plus 0.0 8.3
4.  Apple iPhone 7 21.5 5.6
5.  Xiaomi Redmi 5A 0.0 5.4
6.  Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus 0.0 5.3
Rest of Total Market 332.3 292.3
Total 353.8 345.4
Global Smartphone Marketshare by Model (% of Total) Q1 ’17 Q1 ’18
1.  Apple iPhone X 0.0% 4.6%
2.  Apple iPhone 8 0.0% 3.6%
3.  Apple iPhone 8 Plus 0.0% 2.4%
4.  Apple iPhone 7 6.1% 1.6%
5.  Xiaomi Redmi 5A 0.0% 1.6%
6.  Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus 0.0% 1.5%
Rest of Total Market 93.9% 84.6%
Total 100.0% 100.0%
Total Growth YoY (%) 6.2% -2.4%
Source: Strategy Analytics

 

SA is having a busy week, having published its Q1 2018 tablet shipment numbers too. Apple is doing nicely in that area too, shifting almost twice as many units as second-placed Samsung in a declining market.

“Leading vendors are bouncing back with new hardware and value-added features such as improved stylus capabilities, AR, and digital assistants to support new use cases and double down on their appeal consumer and enterprise markets,” said SA’s Chirag Upadhyay. “Our interactions with computing devices are rapidly changing and companies like Apple, Amazon, and Huawei are staying ahead of the curve with targeted product improvements.”

SA tablets Q1 2018