A new report from The Information relays that Google is looking to take a page out of Apple’s operational playbook. According to Amir Efrati, Google has been eyeing the possibility of manufacturing chips based on their own in-house designs, similar to what Apple currently does with its series of Ax processors.
The purported goal behind Google’s new strategic initiative is to help “bring more uniformity to the fragmented universe of Android phones.” In doing so, Google is hoping that Android devices can better compete with Apple “at the high end of the market.” As Samsung’s recent sales woes have demonstrated, selling Android devices in volume is one thing, selling Android devices at the same pricepoint as Apple’s iPhone is a far more daunting challenge.
The report claims that Google’s talks with chip manufacturers began in earnest this past fall and initially centered on designing chips for an “enterprise connectivity device”; some have speculated that the device in question may be the Pixel C Android laptop-hybrid Google unveiled this past September. As the talks with chip manufacturers progressed, Google soon expressed an interest in using in-house designed chips on other products as well, including mobile phones.
As Apple has shown with the iPhone, tighter integration between software and hardware yields a number of performance benefits that are tough to copy. Consequently, following in Apple’s footsteps might help Google push out more advanced smartphone features at a more rapid clip than what we currently see out of the Android ecosystem. Some of the tangible smartphone benefits Google believes it can achieve by designing its own mobile processor include more advanced and sophisticated camera processing capabilities and more efficient power monitoring of various sensors.
There’s no denying that Android today is immensely popular. Nonetheless, Google is clearly cognizant of the fact that Android needs to be more competitive at the higher-end of the market. Otherwise, Android handset manufacturers will be left to scrap for whatever morsels of smartphone profits Apple leaves on the table. In the long-run, that’s hardly a viable dynamic for the Android platform as whole.