Alphabet’s Q1 earnings were a disappointment for Wall Street, courtesy primarily of ad revenue shortcomings. The hardware team met with some difficulties, as well, owing in part to a stagnating global smartphone market that has impacted virtually all players.
CEO Sundar Pichai cited “year over year headwinds” when referring to the company’s smartphone line, following the release of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL last fall. The executive rightly referenced the company’s relatively recent entry as a standalone hardware developer and painted a hopeful picture of the industry’s innovations going forward.
“I do continue to be excited to see 5G coming and the early foldable phones, which Android plays a big part in driving,” Pichai said on the call. Google has notably taken an important role developing an Android UI designed for the foldable form factor, along with working closely beside Samsung on its recently delayed foldable.
CFO Ruth Porat echoed Pichai’s comments, while hinting at what’s to come from the company. “While the first quarter results reflect pressure in the premium smartphone industry,” the exec explained, “we are pleased with the ongoing momentum of Assistant-enabled Home devices, particularly the Home Hub and Mini devices and look forward to our May 7 announcement at I/O from our hardware team.”
The reference to “premium smartphone[s]” looks to be a roundabout confirmation of the rumored Pixel 3a. The mid-tier take on the Pixel line is rumored to be a rare I/O hardware debut, coming next month. The arrival of such a device could go a ways toward helping jumpstart slowing sales for the line.
Pichai referenced the company’s newly opened “campus and engineering hub.” A result of the company’s massive deal with struggling handset maker, HTC, the Taipei R&D center will be primarily focused on Google’s smartphone offerings. He also referenced the company’s Amazon-competing Home line as a bright spot for its hardware offerings, particularly the Mini and Hub.
“If you take products like Google Home and Assistant products, we’ve been doing really well,” said Pichai. “We see strong momentum. We’re market leaders in the category, especially when you look at it on a global basis.”