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Digital behemoth Google has taken the characteristically bold step of launching its own high-end smartphone, a move that it hopes will see it once and for all straddle the divide between software and hardware in a meaningful way, succeeding where Facebook before it failed.

The new smartphone, called the ‘Pixel’, understandably looks very much like a cross between an iPhone and a higher end Android handset. Boasting the usual top quality camera, fingerprint sensor and lightweight aluminium body, the phone will run on Google’s Android operating system and debut a new feature, Google Assistant, to rival Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. Retailing at £510 ($649), the Pixel is certainly targeted at the top end of the smartphone market, seeking to act as direct competition for the iPhone.

Google Pixel smartphone

Why does Google think it can succeed where Facebook failed so spectacularly with the ill-fated HTC First? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Google already has a huge stake in the smartphone market through its Android operating system. Until now, Google’s main focus has been on creating software to run on other people’s hardware. Now that they have their own high-end handset that is explicitly theirs (as opposed to the Nexus line, which carries the branding of other phone producers like LG and Huawei), Google is in prime position to corner the sizeable non-Apple half of the market. There is every possibility that we will see Google tweaking its Android OS to work and grow in tandem with the Pixel, perhaps even holding back some of the best innovations exclusively for their own handset. We’ve already seen this with the launch of Google Assistant. Who’s to say that Google won’t squeeze out the likes of Samsung to become the only dominant opposition to Apple in the high-end smartphone market?

Do you think the Pixel will be a success? Let us know on Twitter.

(Credit for all images: Google)