Google announced a slew of new hardware products including the newest Pixel phones and a couple new smart speakers on Wednesday. The most important part of the event was not the new hardware products, though.
"Google... provided an update on its artificial intelligence & Machine Learning efforts, underlining Google's long-term strategic ambitions to expand its core search capabilities across a growing array of platforms & use cases," Eric Sheridan, an analyst at UBS, said in a note to clients.
For Sheridan, one of the most important parts of the event was seeing Google's powerful approach to artificial intelligence, and what that means for the future of the business.
As the company's event wandered from new product to new product, the AI theme was evident in all of them. Google's new phones incorporate AI into the camera for better image stabilization and object recognition. The smart speakers can tell users voices apart and pull music requests from the library of the individual talking. The company's new headphones can translate a conversation between two different languages in real time. And that's just the highlights.
The whole spectacle started with a dedicated look at the advances Google has made in artificial intelligence. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, took to the stage to show how the company's researchers are building AI into the very fabric of the company's new products.
Pichai talked about the company's research efforts, which, in a somewhat meta-move, even include using AI to build AI image-recognition systems which are already more accurate and faster than human-generated systems.
Pichai's AI introduction was easy to ignore if you tuned in for new phones or speakers, but it was an important look at how Google is shifting its focus from "Mobile First," to "AI first."
While companies like Amazon and Apple are also building AI products, their strategies seem to focus on pursuing the best voice assistant to put in their speakers or phones, while Google is more closely integrating AI into the soul of its products. The company put up a slide that said "AI + software + hardware" during the presentation, which not only adds AI to its competitors' list of advantages but also puts it first.
Google has it's own voice assistant too, and it's often rated as one of the best in the industry right now. But Pichai's AI intro barely mentioned the assistant because there were so many more AI advances to highlight.
"We are very confident about our approach here," Pichai said onstage. "Because we are at the forefront of driving the shifts with AI.
In Google's event, the new devices definitely stole the show, but they also underlined the company's focus on AI. The question now, Sheridan asks, is how well the new AI-powered devices sell and how they affect the company's bottom line in the future.
Google is up 21.02% this year, and fell slightly after the company's Wednesday event.