Google is debuting new products ahead of the holiday shopping season and on the heels of Apple`s announcements earlier this month of the latest iPhones, iPad and Apple TV.
NEW NEXUS PHONES RUN $379-$499
The Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X are the first smartphones that will be sold with Android`s "Marshmallow." They also feature updates such as fingerprint scanners, the new Nexus camera and Android`s improved personal assistant, Google Now.
Google unveiled the Huawei-made Nexus 6P, all-metal-body device with a 5.7-inch display, slightly bigger than the iPhone 6 Plus. The Nexus 5X is the successor to the Nexus 5 and is made by LG. It has a 5.2-inch display and weighs 136 grams.
The phones can be pre-ordered starting Tuesday. The Nexus 5X starts at $379 and Nexus 6P at $499. The phones come unlocked with no contract and work on major networks in the U.S. and internationally. The phones can also access Google`s Project Fi.
The Nexus line gives Google the opportunity to show off the features of its new Marshmallow Android software, which is rolling out to existing phones next week. Android has 51% of the U.S. smartphone market share and an even greater share outside of the U.S., according to research firm ComScore.
Pichai said the Android mobile operating system now has 1.4 billion users, up from 1 billion in May 2014. Most of that growth is coming from emerging economies such as Indonesia, he said. Google`s goal: To get as much of the world as possible online and using Google services. One billion people used the Play store in a recent 30-day period, Pichai said.
Not everyone was taken with the gleaming new devices.
"Google seems determined to mimic Apple`s cadence of summer software reveals followed by a fall hardware event, but today`s event just reinforced the sense that Google`s hardware strategy remains entirely marginal," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.
CHROMECAST, CHROMECAST AUDIO
Google also heated up competition in the living room with the latest version of its video streaming device Chromecast, which features a new flatter, circular design. A new companion device, Chromecast Audio, streams music from the cloud.
Both devices go on sale Tuesday for $35 apiece. Spotify is now available on Chromecast and Chromecast Audio. Google Play Music is rolling out new family plan: $15 a month for up to six family members. That rivals similar offers from Apple and Spotify.
Google said Tuesday it has sold 20 million Chromecast dongles, which plug into TVs and access the Internet via Wi-Fi, around the world.
Google’s new Chromecast Audio demonstrates its commitment to making Google Play Music one of the leading streaming music services, said Strategy Analytics` Mike Goodman said in an email. "Google has recognized that subscription services has been a hole in its product portfolio (music and video) for some time."
Goodman said that since 33% of Google Music users currently listen via wireless speakers, by adding a smart capability to "dumb" legacy systems such as TVs and hi-fi systems, "it could be the game-changer Google needs to improve its overall appeal and customer reach."
Google also announced a new Android tablet, similar to the Microsoft Surface. The Pixel C, the first Android tablet built end to end by Google, starts at $499 and $149 for the keyboard. The tablet and the keyboard attach magnetically.