Google's Sets its Sights Beyond Smartphones


Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), whose Android software reigns as the world’s dominant smartphone operating system, will step up efforts to make inroads into cars, televisions and other devices at its annual developer conference this week, sources familiar with the matter said.

The Internet company is racing against rivals such as Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Samsung Electronics Co and other companies to extend its business into a broadening field of Internet-connected devices.

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“It's a land grab,” said Sameet Sinha, an analyst with investment bank B. Riley & Co. “The person who gets a platform which controls the devices could be the dominant operating system, not of just devices, it could be the operating system of your home.”

“New platforms offer new opportunities for hardware sales, advertising sales, e-commerce sales, all of these,” Sinha said.

Google would not say whether Chief Executive Larry Page will speak at the two-day Google I/O conference, which begins on Thursday morning and is expected to draw more than 6,000 developers from around the world.

Google's free Android software is used in more than three out of every four smartphones sold globally, providing Google with a valuable entry point for consumers to access its money-making online services such as Web search and maps. In March, Google announced plans to create a special version of Android designed for smartwatches.

Google is expected to provide an update on its plans to integrate Android into automobiles, making it easier for drivers and passengers to access navigation and entertainment features available on their smartphones, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The company could also unveil a new service that tracks a user's health and personal fitness information, similar to recently introduced services from Apple and Samsung, said another person familiar with the matter.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on any of the conference's potential announcements.

Among the events aimed at developers during the conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Center are sessions titled “Wearable computing with Google” and “Build for the multi-device Web," according to the official Google I/O website.

There will also be sessions focused on Nest Labs, the maker of smart thermostats and other home appliances which Google acquired for $3.2 billion in January. On Monday, Nest said it would for the first time allow other companies to create apps that communicate with its devices.

Google may also showcase a version of Android designed for televisions, according to technology blog The Verge. A TV version of Android would come four years after Google’s first effort to enter the living room, Google TV, failed to catch on with consumers.