By Nina Mulamba
Google has unveiled two new Nexus smartphones running the latest Android mobile operating system and the next generation of its Chrome cast streaming device, including an audio device, as the internet giant makes a play for the screens and the wallets of consumers.
The Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X are the first smartphones that will be sold with Android’s “Marshmallow” operating system which features 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 at an event in San Francisco. 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 come unlocked with no contract and work on major networks in the U.S. and internationally, and they 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.
The Android mobile operating system now has 1.4 Billion users, up from 1 Billion in May 2014 which has been attributed to emerging economies such as Indonesia.
“Google seems determined to mimic Apple’s cadence of summer software reveals followed by a fall hardware event, but this event just reinforced the sense that Google’s hardware strategy remains entirely marginal,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.
Google’s goal is to ensure that the entire world gets connected online and the global use of Google services.
The phones can be pre-ordered starting Tuesday. The Nexus 5X starts at $379 while the Nexus 6P at $499.
CHROMECAST, CHROMECAST AUDIO
Google also heated up competition with the latest version of its video streaming device Chrome cast, which features a new flatter, circular design in addition to a new companion device, Chrome cast Audio that streams music from the cloud.
Google said that it has sold 20 million Chrome cast dongles, which plug into TVs and access the Internet via Wi-Fi, around the world.
Google’s new Chrome cast Audio demonstrates its commitment to making Google Play Music one of the leading streaming music services.
“Google has recognized that subscription services have been a hole in its product portfolio (music and video) for some time.” said strategy analytics’ Mike Goodman.
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.”
Both devices go on sale Tuesday for $35 a piece.