Alphabet Inc. shares hit a record high on Tuesday after mostly positive reviews for its new Pixel phones, the first line of phones designed in-house by its Google unit. The Mountain View, California-based company’s stock gained 2.5 percent to $826.85 at 2.43PM in New York, after earlier reaching $828, the highest price since August 19, 2004, when Google’s shares were first traded in the public markets. The mostly positive reviews are a change for Google, a company that has occasionally pushed out glitch-ridden devices before they were ready for mainstream consumption. Google executive Rick Osterloh told Bloomberg News earlier this month that the company would continue to produce new hardware annually.
The Verge’s Walt Mossberg called the new phone “easily the best” Android phone he had ever tested, praising the device’s automated Assistant voice feature and camera system, but panning its battery life. TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington said the Pixel’s camera is a “terrific photo and video experience,” but said Apple Inc.’s iPhone 7 still produces more accurate colors.
Youssef Squali, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, attributed Alphabet’s share gain to the support for the Pixel and confidence after Netflix Inc.’s positive quarterly results on Monday.
“Part of it is the Pixel reviews, which have been more positive than I expected,” Squali said. “Partly it’s the Netflix effect. Great earnings. Google is reporting next week. There’s hope for a strong quarter from all internet companies.”
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Google Pixel is a big deviation from Google’s older Nexus program. While Nexus focused on pushing the boundaries of Android with an OEM partner, the Pixel is a smartphone that Google conceived, designed and developed (again with a partner). Pixel smartphones also show how Google can make a stellar operating system that offers little or no lag.
Google Pixel’s main pillar is not the flagship hardware but the introduction of Pixel exclusive software features. With Pixel, Google is making the Pixel launcher and Assistant exclusive to the new device. In our own initial impressions with the device, we noticed that Assistant is Google’s way of pushing artificial intelligence to its mobile operating system. With Pixel, Google is getting into Apple’s territory displacing Samsung as Apple’s major hardware competitor.
(Written with inputs from Bloomberg)