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Google Has An Obscured Direction In 2017
[Image: google-reset.png?w=1279&h=727&crop=1]

For eight years, Google always held its biggest event of the year, its I/O developer conference, in San Francisco.
This year, however, it moved it out (and outdoors) to an amphitheater in Mountain View, right next to its campus. Looking back, that move now feels symbolic. In many ways, 2016 was a year of change for Google: It was the first full year after the surprise Google/Alphabet reorg and the year that saw Google get serious about its own hardware, the cloud and the enterprise. Across the industry, 2016 was also the year of AI and machine learning — and Google was very much at the forefront of this.
Let’s get Google’s misses right out of the way: the launch of its Allo and Duo messaging apps only led to mass confusion and very little adoption; smartwatches are struggling and the fact that Google delayed the launch of Android Wear 2.0 to early next year isn’t helping its wearables strategy; Project Ara, Google’s Lego-like smartphone project, also died a sudden death.
But given the amount of products Google offers, it’s no surprise the company occasionally misses the mark. So let’s get to the good part.
Google used the last year to sharpen its product portfolio and to go after potentially lucrative markets that it previously allowed to linger. Hardware is an obvious example here. After years of working with different hardware manufacturers to produce what were essentially Android reference phones under the Nexus brand, Google ditched that effort this year and launched its Pixel phones under its own name and brand.
That itself would have been a big deal, but Google also launched Google Home (its Amazon Echo challenger), Google Wifi, a new version of the Chromecast dongle and the Daydream VR headset. That’s an unprecedented amount of hardware from Google — and even more so because virtually all of these were developed from the ground up.
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If you needed any evidence that Google is serious about making its own hardware, just read over that list again (and you could maybe even add the Pixel C tablet to it, though that launched late in 2015 and has lingered ever since).
At the core of a lot of these products and Google’s overall AI ambitions is the Google Assistant, Google’s effort at building a conversational personal assistant that’ll work across its product line.
The company’s interest in machine learning and AI isn’t new, of course, and the Assistant built on years of developing the Google Knowledge Graph and other projects (which include Google building its own machine learning chips).

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