MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — When Google made a major foray into hardware last year with new smartphones, a voice-activated speaker, a virtual-reality headset and a WiFi router, it was an audacious play to complement its software arsenal and extend its reach into the consumer market.The company best known for its search engine wasn’t kidding around: It made hardware the centerpiece of its Google I/O developers conference here and later poached Amazon executive David Foster, who ran the lab responsible for Amazon’s Kindle tablet and Echo smart speaker, to head hardware product development. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has referred to hardware as “our next big bet.”A year later, Google has discovered that hardware can be, well, hard.As Google gets ready to lay out its vision at this year’s I/O Wednesday, it’s still making that hardware bet pay off. Pixel phones are in short supply and relatively few have sold. Virtual reality isn’t yet ready for prime time, as evidenced by modest sales of Google’s Daydream VR headsets. The Home speaker has sold well, but has been dwarfed by Amazon Echo. Foster, the prized recruit brought to kick-start the division, left in April after six months on the job.Hardware is hard because Google’s success, in large part, is dependent… Read full this story
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