Google Ramps Up Facilities for Foray Into Hardware

Google Ramps Up Facilities for Foray Into Hardware

Google is building several facilities to develop and showcase its new home entertainment products, as the company transitions into hardware manufacturing to better compete with rivals.

In addition to hardware testing labs where the company will design and analyze its newest devices, the search giant is expected to build a “Google Experience Center,” a 120,000 square-foot facility intended to showcase past, present, and future hardware offerings to prospective buyers and important guests.

Google’s reported venture into “smart home” systems, combined with its pending $12.5 billion Motorola acquisition, positions the Mountain View, Calif.-based company to better compete with rivals like Apple, which retain more control and generate higher profits by developing its own devices.

Apple and Google are fierce rivals in both the smartphone and online content markets. Google boasts several massive online services like YouTube and Gmail that generate billions in highly coveted ad revenue, but the recent success of Apple’s iPhone 4S with Siri voice technology, along with other voice-recognition search offerings, may take search out of Google’s purview altogether.

But the Motorola merger will give Google the ability to expand from software into branded hardware, and upgrades to the Googleplex hint at the company’s focus on making hardware a larger part of its offerings, retrofitting its facilities to prepare for a future where actual products play a more significant role.

Exactly what its newest devices will do remains a mystery. Mountain View city officials reported last month Google’s plans include a lab for a division called “Google/@home,” that screens out radio frequency signals, likely so the company can privately test wireless technology.

The New York Times reported last week Google is beta-testing a wireless, digital home-music system that integrates streaming media content from its online services and might be controlled via mobile devices such as smartphones. The company is also rumored to be developing a “personal communications device,” according to Engadget, but details remain scant.

However, sources last week also claimed Apple is searching for telecom partners for an upcoming Apple TV set, meaning the two companies will once again go head-to-head as they transition into the home entertainment market.

Still, Google is confidently moving in the manufacturing direction, bolstering its product offerings and on-site production capabilities. Combined with its already vast array of online services, successful forays into mobile technology and smart home systems could make the already formidable company an even fiercer rival for competitors like Apple.

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