Google set to revolutionize smartphones with satcom integration

Allen Hsieh, Taipei; Vyra Wu, DIGITIMES Asia 0


Tech giant Google is poised to lead the charge in integrating satellite communication capabilities into its Pixel lineup.

In a move set to redefine the landscape of smartphone connectivity, Google follows in the footsteps of industry heavyweights Apple and Huawei, who introduced satellite features to their flagship models in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Google's strategic pivot signals a watershed moment for the industry.

Analysts note that the primary smartphone manufacturers delving into satellite communication are Apple and Huawei. However, within the Android sphere, only Chinese firms such as Honor and Xiaomi have ventured into this arena. Notably, Samsung Electronics, a key player, has not entered, and even Google Pixel has not released devices with satellite communication capabilities. Hence, it's logical for Google to gear up for substantial investment in this field.

Rumors abound that Google will make a groundbreaking announcement at the 2024 Google I/O conference, unveiling its plans to incorporate satellite communication functionality into its Pixel smartphones. This move is expected to catalyze a seismic shift within the Android ecosystem and potentially democratize satellite communication across various devices.

The implications of Google's foray into satellite communication extend far beyond technological innovation. With AST SpaceMobile, a leading satellite provider, securing substantial investments from corporate titans, including Google, the stage is set for a collaborative endeavor that could fundamentally alter how we perceive smartphone connectivity.

Moreover, Google's increased investment in satellite communication will drive the development speed of satellite communication on mobile devices. Qualcomm, initially expected to lead the satellite revolution from the mobile side, appeared weakened after terminating its cooperation with Iridium by the end of 2023.

As Google intensifies its efforts to usher in the era of satellite communication, industry observers anticipate a ripple effect across the Android landscape. While Pixel may serve as the vanguard, other Android manufacturers will likely follow suit, driven by the prospect of tapping into a burgeoning market ripe for disruption.

In essence, Google's relentless pursuit of satellite communication represents a pivotal moment in the evolution of the smartphone industry. By embedding satellite interfaces into the fabric of the Android ecosystem, Google is not merely envisioning the future – it's actively shaping it.