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A Google event today (Tuesday) served as a showcase for the tech giant's latest versions of its Chromecast streaming video device, its Nexus smartphones, and its Android operating system.
Hardware sales account for a negligible portion of Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GOOGL, GOOG) revenue, but do have an indirect impact on Google stock. Such products are a key part of the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's strategy for hooking customers into its ecosystem, where Google can monetize customers via advertising.
Google unveiled two new Nexus phones, the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P, while offering a few more details on the latest version of Android, dubbed "Marshmallow," which launches next week.
Neither phone is made by Google itself. LG Electronics makes the 5.2-inch Nexus 5X, and Huawei Technology Co. makes the 5.7-inch Nexus 6P.
While the new phones offer some nice improvements – a camera better able to shoot photos in low light, a new type of USB that charges the device in half the time, and an Android feature called Doze that increases battery life by 30% when the device is dormant – there was no "wow" factor.
But that can't be said for Google's Chromecast, an upgrade of a $35 device that debuted in 2013. The Google Event debuted a new Chromecast with a new shape (circular), faster Wi-Fi, and much better remote control via any smartphone.
Google Chromecast Is Small but Mighty
Unlike some other Google ventures into hardware, Chromecast has seen some success, with the first version selling 20 million units.
A model of simplicity, the new Chromecast is a circular device just 2 inches in diameter. It streams video content to your TV via Wi-Fi, attaching by means of an HDMI plug. And it still costs just $35.
And any Wi-Fi connected device can control it via a dedicate app. That includes not just Android-powered smartphones and tablets, but also Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) devices and even Windows PCs.
But Google is thinking you'll prefer to use your smartphone. It's a window into how Google intends to compete in the so-called war for the living room.