Why Google plans to release its own smartphone by the end of 2016

Google, whose Android operating system is already the best selling OS on smartphones and tablets, could release its own device by the end of the year. 

Jeff Chiu/ AP
Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai speaks at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Stanford, Calif., on Friday, June 24, 2016. Google is planning to release its own smartphone handset by the end of the year.

By the end of 2016, tech giant Google plans to have released its first ever smartphone, The Telegraph reports, putting it in direct competition with Apple and other well-established brands within the mobile telephone industry.

Google is already far from being entirely separate from the tablet/smartphone industry; its Android operating system, which the company acquired in 2005, was acquired by the company in 2005, is the best-selling OS for tablets and mobile devices, and has been since 2013. Android currently runs on the majority of smartphones in production and last year, the affiliated Google Play app store surpassed Apple's App Store for most amount of available apps for download.

In fact, the combined successes of Android and Google Play have become so successful that the European Union has formally charged Google with monopoly abuse, stating that the company is using the success of its operating system and app store to further push their original search engine and web browser, Google Chrome.

But the company is trying to expand into smartphone hardware, The Telegraph reports, citing anonymous sources who say Google fans could expect the new device by the end of 2016. Although "an own-brand smartphone would always have been on the cards at the [hardware] division, few expected to see such an aggressive timeline for such a project," Tom Mendelsohn wrote for Ars Technica. 

Currently their software runs on about 4 out of 5 smartphones in the world, according to an industry research firm's quarterly report, including those developed by other large international tech companies such as Samsung, LG and HTC. As Google turns towards its own hardware, however, "our plan is still to work with [other manufacturers]," chief executive Sundar Pichai told the Code Conference last month. 

However, Google may plan to enter a near-saturated mobile phone industry. There is even a smartphone set to begin shipping this week in India that has a quad-core 1.3Ghz processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and costs a grand total of $4.

Earlier this year Google hired the former head of Motorola, Rick Osterloh, to lead a new hardware division as the company continues expanding its potential roles in the smartphone/tablet industry, having already released their own laptops and tablet computer.

While Android is currently by far the best selling mobile operating system, Google has fretted over the software's fragmentation through various manufacturers, an analyst at CCS Insight told The Telegraph. "It needs to become a more controlled platform," Ben Wood said. Because some devices apply the Android software differently than others, some smartphone users have been forced to wait months for software updates, for example. 

Conversely, Apple has traditionally had a great deal of success keepings its products streamlined. As opposed to Google, which provides an operating system and store function for third party-produced devices, Apple retains exclusive control over their devices and operating system, and closely monitors products that are available in their app store. This highly-controlled system has allowed Apple to ensure that proper updates and developments in the software are followed on most, if not all, of their devices. 

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