Analysts predict the product launch will also showcase other Google hardware initiatives, including a voice-controlled speaker system called Home to challenge Amazon.com Inc’s Echo device, and a virtual reality headset.
The most eagerly expected offering is a pair of smartphones released under the Pixel brand, replacing the Nexus line. While most vendors other than Apple use Google’s Android operating system, the company has for years toyed with various approaches to building its own hardware without alienating manufacturers.
Google has sold Nexus phones since 2010, but the devices have gained little traction in a market dominated by Samsung Electronics.
Analysts attribute the lackluster sales to poor distribution, as the phones typically are not available through network carriers, the channel most U.S. consumers rely on. Google also owned the Motorola smartphone business briefly before selling it to Lenovo Group.
Because its mobile software is available so widely, Google has struggled to distinguish its own devices, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.
Google “wants to have this end-to-end experience, but it’s not clear that people really want that,” Dawson said.
The new Pixel phones are expected to cost more than $600, putting them at the high end of the market, where Apple is the leading player.
Dawson is more optimistic about the Home device – unveiled at the company’s developer conference this year – which works with home entertainment systems and responds to voice commands.
The device represents an important move in an intensifying battle between Google and other tech giants to establish the dominant “digital assistant.”