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Sundar Pichai, the senior vice president of Chrome at Google, introduced Samsung ChromeBox in a conference this month. Beck Diefenbach / Reuters
Sundar Pichai, the senior vice president of Chrome at Google, introduced Samsung ChromeBox in a conference this month. Beck Diefenbach / Reuters

Google working on low-cost mobiles

The Life: Google is known for keeping its top-secret projects, well, secret. But the company has shared a few details about forthcoming products with The National.

Google always seems to have interesting side projects on the go, with augmented-reality eyeglasses being one of its latest experiments.

But this year the company is focusing on three strategic areas, including new mobiles and devices that use its Chrome internet browser, says Obi Felten, Google's director of marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

So what can consumers expect from mobiles that use Google's Android operating software? Cheaper alternatives, for one.

"Android has been phenomenally successfully globally, but quite uneven," says Ms Felten, who adds that sales have been lower among the less-affluent, particularly in emerging countries. "We, at the beginning, focused on high-end devices."

But she says Google, working with partners, is now trying to produce handsets that would cost about US$40 (Dh146) to $50 but still include some features such as maps and the capacity to stream YouTube videos.

Google also plans to work with technology manufacturers while pushing Chromebox, a device that is meant to help consumers access and store digital media in the cloud - rather than on hard drives. Tech bloggers speculate that the Chromebox will include a headphone jack, multiple USB ports and perhaps a wireless keyboard and mouse accessories.

The blog Engadget reported this month that the device would retail for $330 through at least one store in the United States.

Google, however, is keeping relatively mum about its exact specifications, saying only that Chromebox will provide a virus-free solution for getting and saving data.

"It is very fast, and the [Chromebox] machines out there are prototype machines - and not the most beautiful," says Ms Felten.

All Google executives have to do now is make sure the Chromebox look good. Or do they?

"If you look at the first Android phone that came out, it was, frankly, quite ugly," says Ms Felten.

nparmar@thenational.ae

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