Microsoft building an ‘Xbox Reading’ app for Windows 8

xbox logo (verge stock)

Microsoft has already built Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps for Windows 8, but the next target is books. A recent Microsoft job listing, discovered by Chinese Microsoft blog LiveSino, notes that the software giant is looking to hire a software design engineer to build “a groundbreaking interactive reading app on Windows, which incorporates books, magazines, and comics.” Potential candidates would join the same Music, Video, and Reading (MVR) team that has already shipped two built-in Xbox branded apps for Windows 8.

It’s not immediately clear why Microsoft is building another reading application, but The Verge has confirmed with one source familiar with the company’s plans that Microsoft is planning to build the new app. Microsoft already ships a separate “Reader” app for Windows 8, so it’s possible that the company is planning to redesign and rebuild it with Xbox branding. The existing Reader app is a fairly basic viewer with support for PDF, XPS, and TIFF files. Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps run across Windows 8, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, but it’s not clear from the job posting whether Microsoft is also porting the new reading app to its Xbox consoles.

MICROSOFT’S OFFICE TEAM ALSO BUILDING A READER APP

Microsoft’s Office team is also developing its own separate “Office Reader” app for Windows 8. Office Reader is designed to be a cross-format tool for consuming different types of content, including PDFs and textbooks. Microsoft’s Office Reader app is being developed by the Office team at the company, not the Music, Video, and Reading team. Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauer demonstrated the Office Reader app during an employee-only company meeting last year. Both the “Xbox Reading” and Office Reader applications have not been announced yet, but Microsoft is expected to ship its Office Reader app later this year.

The promise of books, magazines, and comics integration suggests this upcoming Xbox-branded reading app could be the first full example of Microsoft’s Nook investment. The software-maker partnered with Barnes & Noble for a $300 million investment in late 2012, but Microsoft has not yet integrated the Nook services into its own apps in any meaningful way. Aside from a Nook Windows 8 app, the promise of accelerated “e-reading innovation across a broad range of Windows devices” has not yet come to fruition.

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NASCAR 14 skipping PlayStation 4 and Xbox One because of install base

The latest title in the NASCAR franchise, NASCAR ’14, will launch on current-gen platforms because next-generation market share doesn’t yet justify the cost of development, Eutechnyx’s EVP, Ed Martin told Extra Mustard.

According to Martin, “the nail in the coffin” to bypass the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One was when SCEE CEO Jim Ryan announced last May that Gran Turismo 6was debuting on PS3 and not PS4 because of the current console’s install base. Ryan explained at the time that the PS3 has an install base of 70 million units, while “on launch day we’ll have an install base of zero units” for the PS4.

“It costs us about $6 million to develop a next-gen version of NASCAR,” Martin said. “You have to sell an awful lot of copies in order to meet the development costs, on top of all the licensing. There are about 4-5 million worldwide combined units of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, so it just doesn’t add up for us right now. We own the rights, and we absolutely have plans, but it won’t be later this year.”

Kazunori Yamauchi, the creator of the Gran Turismo racing series, mentioned last year that Gran Turismo 6 may head to PS4 post-holiday season. He stated that the “best scenario” was to focus on the PS3 version, downloadable content and updates, possibly followed by a PS4 release.

NASCAR ’14 will feature official teams, tracks and drivers from the racing sport. It will also include a career mode, as well as league competition with rankings, statistics and challenges. The NASCAR Highlights mode lets players race in real-life scenarios from NASCAR’s current season. Developed by Eutechnyx, who also created NASCAR: The Game 2013 and NASCAR The Game: Inside LineNASCAR ’14 is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and Windows PC Feb. 18 for $49.99.

Microsoft could give you $250 in credit for your phone or tablet

Good for another month, the deal can earn you a hefty amount of store credit but naturally imposes certain conditions.

Microsoft has surfaced with a new trade-in deal.Microsoft has surfaced with a new trade-in deal.

Microsoft has a new trade-in deal designed to get you to shop at its retail stores.

Running from February 2 through March 2, or while supplies last, the trade-in offer promises up to $250 in Microsoft Store credit for a mobile phone or tablet. The offer seems open to any device though it has to meet certain criteria.

The device must power on and be fully functional. No broken or missing parts or cracks on the screen or housing. No liquid damage. No password protection. (Hmm, that one seems like a no-brainer.) And it must include all of its original accessories. Microsoft will determine the actual trade-in value, so you may or may not be able to snag the full $250 in credit.

Any other conditions? Of course. The offer is good only at Microsoft Store retail outlets. The trade-in is limited to one per customer and is final.

Still, the deal could be a good way to unload an old but working phone or tablet, especially if you’re looking for a certain Microsoft product. The company’s promo page naturally touts theSurface 2 as a tablet worthy of your consideration. The Surface 2 starts at $449, so the full store credit would cut the price to just $199.

Sony SmartWatch 2 Review

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Sony’s new SmartWatch 2 doesn’t get as much attention – and doesn’t do as much – as Samsung’s Galaxy Gear computerized wristwatch. But for the things it does, Sony’s version performs better.The SmartWatch 2 is also 33 percent cheaper, at about $200, and works with a variety of Android phones, not just Sony’s. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear sells for $300 and is compatible only with a handful of high-end Samsung phones.

(Also seeSony SmartWatch 2 launched in India for Rs. 14,990)

That said, neither company has made a compelling case of why people need a smartwatch this holiday season.

These wrist-bound gadgets are supposed to free you from constantly pulling out your phone to check for messages. But I found myself checking the watch more often than I would pull out a phone. That proved more distracting – and less private – over dinner, for instance.

The SmartWatch 2 is worth considering primarily if you want to be among the first with the latest technology.

What Sony’s watch does
Think of the watch as a companion to your phone. The phone needs to be within Bluetooth wireless range, or about 30 feet (9 meters).

You install a free Smart Connect app on the phone to manage what gets sent to the watch, be it messages or call notifications. You give the watch functionality by adding watch apps to Smart Connect one by one. Smart Connect fetches the watch apps from Google’s online Play store.

For example, I installed Sony’s Messaging app to get texts on the watch. I get full texts and can reply with emoticons or pre-written responses such as “I’ll get back to you.” There’s no keyboard on the watch to type individual replies, given that its screen measures just 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) diagonally.

The Facebook watch app lets me check the latest posts and endorse some with “likes” right from the watch. With Twitter, I can read the latest updates, retweet them or mark some as favorites. But I’m limited to text on the watch. I can’t access photos and other links that are often embedded into tweets.

Getting too much? Through the phone, I can choose specific friends and accounts to get notifications for, though I can’t simply add “family” and other groups I had already created on Facebook.

The watch can act as a remote control for your phone, but calls themselves are made through the phone. For the watch to be useful, you need a Bluetooth wireless headset linked to the phone.

When calls come in, you can reject the call, with or without a canned text reply. If you have a Sony phone, you can answer calls from the watch as well. With any phone running at least Android 4.0, you can initiate calls from the watch using its dialpad or your Android contacts list. But again, the calls go through your phone. You can control volume, but it took me a while to figure out how.

There are nearly 250 other apps you can add, many coming from outside app developers.

I particularly like a 99-cent app called Fake Call. Tap on the watch to make your phone ring with a phantom call. Use that to get you out of whatever sketchy situation you might find yourself in.

A free app called GPS Maps sends a map to your watch with surrounding blocks. The map moves as you move, though I don’t get directions.

sony-smartwatch-2-colours-ap-635.jpgHow it compares with Samsung’s device
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear wins on style: The watch has a metal frame and straps in six colors. It can work as a fashion accessory, at least for men. It’s on the larger side, with a 1.6-inch screen matching Sony’s. The SmartWatch 2 from Sony feels cheap, by comparison, though the straps are replaceable with other 24-millimeter watch straps if you’re really buying this for fashion.

The Gear also wins on features: Sony’s watch doesn’t have a speaker or a microphone. It doesn’t have a camera. The Gear has all that, which means you can make phone calls through the watch itself, without a Bluetooth headset. The camera produces low-resolution images, but it beats missing the shot because your phone is in the pocket.

But I don’t believe these features are worth an extra $100. The speakerphone doesn’t offer much privacy or work well in noisy environments. The speaker allows you to reply to text messages using voice dictation, but the transcriptions are slow and error-prone.

Where the SmartWatch 2 outperforms the Gear is in delivering messages.

The Gear gives you full texts, but that’s about it. Get a Facebook or Gmail notification? You have to return to the phone to read the message. The watch is supposed to reduce the need to pull out your phone, but not if you keep getting notifications urging you to check.

And while I got about 2.5 days on the SmartWatch 2 on a single charge, the Gear dies in a day. You can charge Sony’s watch with a standard micro-USB charger, while the Gear needs its own. The Gear’s watch face also goes dark so it could last just a day. With Sony’s watch, you can see the time even in a low-power mode.

Sony’s SmartWatch 2 also has many more apps to choose from – more than three times as many.

Do you need it?
Maybe one day, smartwatches will truly be smart. They need to be better at filtering the important notifications from the noise, and they need to do more than tell you to go back to the phone to complete a task.

For now, we’re in an era of experimentation. Sony’s SmartWatch 2 advances the field with a just-the-basics smartwatch, but I’ll wait at least a year or two for even more advances before buying one myself.

Apple will need to address low-end phones, ARM exec says

Antonio Viana, an executive from one of the Apple’s partners, says Apple will feel pressure from not selling cheaper devices.

A woman uses a mobile phone as she walks past an Apple store in Beijing on January 17. China Mobile, the country’s biggest wireless provider, that day started selling Apple’s iPhone to millions of customers nationwide, ending a six-year wait in a crucial market for the US technology giant.(Credit: Getty Images)

Apple needs to do something to address the slowdown in the high-end smartphone market and the rise of cheap phones, an executive from one of the company’s partners said.

Antonio Viana, president of commercial and global development and executive vice president at ARM Holdings, said the premium segment of the smartphone market will grow much slower than the other areas — only about 4 percent each year through 2018 versus 14 percent annual growth for mid-range devices and 17 percent annual growth for low-end phones. The high-end market will grow more in North America, he said, but Apple still will have to cope with the flood of lower priced phones that will hit markets around the globe.

“They are going to feel pressure,” Viana told CNET. “They’re going to have to do something.”

Meanwhile, Viana said that Apple’s chief rival, Samsung, “does an exceptional job of really spreading itself pretty widely in terms of the technology it puts into the marketplace.”

We’ve contacted Apple for comment and will update the report when we have more information.

ARM Holdings develops chip technology that’s then licensed by companies such as Samsung and Qualcomm. The vast majority of mobile devices use ARM-based chips, and even Apple’s line of processors, such as the A7, use ARM architecture.

In developed markets like the US, almost everyone who wants a smartphone has one. And thetablet market is maturing as well. That means Apple, Samsung, and all others in the mobile industry have to look to emerging regions like China for growth. Apple now has a bigger presence in that country with its China Mobile partnership, but it could take some time for sales to really take off on the world’s biggest network with three-quarters of a billion subscribers.

And even with that partnership, Apple doesn’t make phones that address the vast majority of customers in emerging markets. Customers in the US typically pay a subsidized price for smartphones by buying them on two-year contacts through carriers. Most people in emerging markets and even Europe, however, pay full price for their devices. Shelling out $800 for an iPhone someplace like China limits the device to only the most wealthy or the biggest Apple fans.

Meanwhile, ARM on Tuesday reported it swung to a loss of $10.1 million for the fourth quarter on higher operating costs. Its revenue climbed 15 percent. Shares fell as the company’s royalties came in lower than what analysts had been expecting. ARM makes money from licensing its chip technology but then generates a royalty from each device that uses the processor.

Microsoft Studios acquires rights to Gears of War franchise

Post updated to include current franchise logo: 1/27/14– 10 a.m. PST

Today we’re excited to announce that Microsoft Studios has acquired the rights to the “Gears of War” franchise from Epic Games, including rights to all existing and future games, entertainment experiences and merchandise. In addition, we are excited to announce that Black Tusk Studios in Vancouver, BC will take over development of the “Gears of War” franchise and that Rod Fergusson, former Director of Production at Epic Games on the “Gears of War” franchise, will join Microsoft and play a key studio leadership role at Black Tusk on the development of the franchise going forward. We had a chance to chat with Phil Spencer, Head of Microsoft Studios, Hanno Lemke, General Manager of Black Tusk Studios at Microsoft Studios, and Rod Fergusson about the big news.

Why did Microsoft purchase the “Gears of War” franchise?
Phil Spencer: It all comes back to our commitment to Xbox fans. The “Gears of War” franchise has a very strong, passionate and valued fan base on Xbox. Over twenty-two million units have been sold across all “Gears of War” titles worldwide, grossing over $1B dollars (US). This franchise, and these fans, are part of the soul of Xbox. By acquiring this franchise, Microsoft Studios will continue to offer them more of their favorite games and entertainment experiences from the “Gears of War” universe.

Why did Epic Games agree to this acquisition?
Hanno Lemke: Epic has been a tremendous partner to work with, and it has been a privilege for Microsoft to be Epic’s publishing partner and work together to achieve the phenomenal success of the “Gears of War” games.  Epic remains great partners and good friends of Microsoft Studios.  In fact we will collaborate closely with Epic to ensure the inclusion of the Unreal Engine technology into the “Gears of War” franchise going forward remains consistent with the high quality fans have come to expect from the franchise.

Why was an as-yet-unproven studio like Black Tusk chosen to lead the “Gears of War” development over a more established studio?
Phil Spencer: Black Tusk has assembled a world-class team with deep experience and passion for the shooter space, and specifically the “Gears of War” franchise.  I am extremely confident that under the leadership of Hanno Lemke, Rod Fergusson and our other leaders in the studio, Black Tusk is well equipped to take on the future development of the “Gears of War” franchise.

Are there plans to bring anyone who worked on previous “Gears of War” games onboard to work on the future of the series?
Hanno Lemke: The news that Rod Fergusson is joining Black Tusk should be really exciting for fans of the franchise.  Rod has played a leadership role at Epic on all of the “Gears of Wars” games, he understands the franchise deeply but equally importantly he understands the fans of the franchise – what they love, where they want to see the franchise evolve.  Once the news spreads about the opportunities at Black Tusk, I’m confident we’ll see interest from a number of talented developers who share the same passion for the “Gears” franchise as the developers at Black Tusk.

When can we expect to hear more about the plans for the “Gears of War” franchise?
Hanno Lemke: We hope to be able to share more news about “Gears of War” later this year.

You’re moving back to Canada and back to working on the “Gears” franchise. Is it like a homecoming for you?
Rod Fergusson: I’m extremely excited to be joining Black Tusk Studios to oversee development on the “Gears of War” franchise. I’ve been privileged to work on a lot of great games with a lot of great teams, but “Gears” has had the most impact on me professionally and personally, so this really feels like a homecoming. I can’t wait to share more with you all soon.

Finally, Epic games shared the following statement on the acquisition:
“Epic Games has reached an agreement to sell the ‘Gears of War’ intellectual property rights to Microsoft.  We’re very proud of the franchise we built in close partnership with Microsoft over the past decade and are happy that this agreement enables Microsoft to forge ahead with the ‘Gears’ universe on their industry-leading platforms as Epic concentrates its efforts on new projects,” said Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney. “Epic remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects.”

Battle Your Nemesis In Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

“Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor,” a prequel to “The Lord of The Rings,” delivers a dark story of retribution as players will assume the role of Talion, a ranger who loses everything on the night of Sauron’s return to Mordor. As Talion’s personal vendetta unfolds, players uncover the mystery of the Spirit that compels him, discover the origin of the Rings of Power and confront the ultimate nemesis.
With a dynamic next-gen game environment powered by the Nemesis System, players orchestrate their personal plan of vengeance as they bend Mordor to their will; ensuring a unique experience to all players. Every enemy players face is a unique individual, differentiated by their personality, strengths and weaknesses.Enemy encounters create personal archenemies specific to every gameplay session. Players must outthink each distinctively different enemy to infiltrate the ranks and dominate within the dynamic world that remembers and adapts to their actions and choices.

Sony Addresses The PS4 Save File Corrupting Error CE-34878-0

PlayStation 4 users have been struggling with the ambiguous CE-34878-0 error message for some time. Its symptoms have apparently worsened, and Sony has offered a statement about what it is doing fix the issue.

When asked for comment about the recent re-appearance of the error message a representative from Sony told Game Informer in an e-mail, “We are aware of the cases, and we appreciate your patience while we investigate.”

We encountered the error shortly after the console’s launch in our attempts to play Battlefield 4 online. At the time, the error message would appear preventing us from playing the game online, but now PlayStation 4 owners are encountering damaged and corrupt save files alongside the error message. A thread on Sony’s message boards, which was originally posted in December but continues to receive updates, has a large number of users claiming that save files for games are no longer working after the message appears for games like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Call of Duty: Ghosts and others.

In that thread, a community coordinator for Sony does offer some help in regard to error message:

If you are experiencing this ce-34878-0 error code, please close the application and then install the latest system software and game patch.

If the error occurs again, initialise the PS4 system after back-up of the save data and please also submit any crash reports after re-booting your console when the error occurs.

Hope that helps.

[Via: IGN]

 

Our Take
Sony’s statement – though welcome compared to silence – is troubling and doesn’t inspire much confidence for a speedy resolution. With issues like this it’s always difficult to ascertain if it is truly widespread, or if the few who have had the poor luck to run into the problem just happen to be very vocal in their justified complaints. Hopefully Sony can figure out what is happening and resolve the issue and (fingers crossed) restore the save files of those who have lost progress.

A pocket arcade without enough buttons

Do you need buttons to play games on your iPhone? Certainly not. And yet, iOS MFi-certified game controllers are here, giving you the promise of full game controller-like support for games and letting you theoretically use your phone or iPod Touch like a little Nintendo 3DSor PlayStation Vita.

The Logitech Powershell Controller + Battery is one of those accessories. As its name suggests, it’s a case that adds physical gaming buttons, and also has a battery pack. It also costs $99.99. For most people, that’s where the train skids off the tracks.

Whether you want an iOS game controller probably depends on two things: how many cool games there are that support it, and how much it costs. At the moment, that’s the failing of all iOS game controllers: the accessories, like the Logitech PowerShell Controller + Battery, simply cost too much. And what they do just isn’t interesting enough…yet.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

There are some stunning killer games in the App Store, but they’re too few and far between. Add a few more supported games, drop the price, and then things will get exciting. Logitech’s first entry into the iOS game controller accessory landscape is built well, but it doesn’t have as many buttons as the competition…and it just doesn’t feel all that useful as a result.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

There aren’t many game controller accessories available yet: the Moga Ace Power, theSteelSeries Stratus, and the Logitech Powershell. Both the Moga and Logitech are specifically slip-on cases for the iPhone 5/5s and 2012 iPod Touch that use a Lightning connector and add a battery pack to boot for on-the-road recharging. Both cost $99.99. The SteelSeries Stratuscosts the same, but is a separate, standalone Bluetooth controller — not a case at all — and works with iPads, too.

The Powershell and the Moga Ace Power are very similar in some key ways: both require Lightning connectivity, excluding devices older than the iPhone 5 and fifth-gen iPod Touch, and both are designed as snap-on controller cases for iPhones and iPod Touches specifically. Both double as rechargeable battery pack cases. And, neither supports any Bluetooth connectivity. The Logitech case doesn’t work the iPhone 5C; the Moga one does.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

But the Logitech Powershell doesn’t have the same number of buttons as the Moga Ace Power or the SteelSeries Stratus; it has only a directional pad, four color-coded and lettered buttons, and two top shoulder buttons (plus a dedicated Pause button and on/off button for the iPhone/iPod that’s inside). The Moga and SteelSeries controllers have extra dual analog pads and dual analog triggers, matching the “Extended” controller profile baked into iOS 7; this Powershell adopts the more minimal “Standard” layout. Apple has allowed game controller makers to pick either button-set. Honestly, there should only be one: the “Extended” layout, with all the buttons a seriously gamer would want. If I want to add buttons, I’d prefer to have all of them.

Will the Powershell have enough buttons for you? Maybe not for those looking to play a complex first-person shooter, driving, or flying title, but this controller has some surprises up its sleeve. All the buttons are analog, not digital; they’re all pressure-sensitive. In Lego Lord of the Rings, for instance, one of the games I tried with the Powershell, holding the D-pad lightly to the left made my character walk, while pushing harder down made him run. This could mean that the shoulder buttons or front-facing buttons would work to control a pressure-sensitive gas pedal in a driving game.

But, I’d still prefer at least one analog stick. The shoulder buttons feel stiff, too, unlike the smoother, more triggerlike secondary shoulder buttons on the Moga, which feel like the ones on the back of an Xbox or PlayStation controller.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

You can still use the iPhone touch screen and accelerometer while playing, and certain flight games and action titles like Sky Gamblers: StormRaiders end up mixing tilt, touch, and buttons much like PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS games already do. So, the lack of some extra buttons isn’t always a huge deal breaker. Complex games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas end up playing decently, too, but using a D-pad instead of a proper analog pad just doesn’t feel the same.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

All basic iPhone/iPod functions are still accessible while the Powershell is on: volume, on/off, and camera access via a cutout section on the back. Headphone access comes via an included plug-in that juts out of the jack.

The Powershell’s case feels compact with a soft rubberlike finish, made with the type of polish you’d expect out of an iOS accessory. The buttons and triggers felt very solid, too. The Moga Ace Power, by comparison, felt a bit more plastic and loose-fitting. I like how it feels when I hold it, too. If the Powershell had analog pads, it would be perfect. But it doesn’t.

But, as a battery pack accessory — part of the Powershell’s supposed appeal — it just isn’t practical. It’s long, unwieldy, and while a flashing color-LED indicator on the back shows when the 1,500mAh battery is fully charged, there’s no easy way to tell how much battery life is left when in use. Mine ran out of juice one day, randomly. The controller still works when connected and should offer close to a full phone charge, but I prefer something like a Mophie instead.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

What controller cases like the Powershell truly need the most are more great games on the App Store that work with them. Right now, despite a promise of “hundreds” of compatible games, I have a hard time finding 15 great ones. If you’re a desperate retro gamer and don’t mind being an early adopter — and don’t like analog sticks — the Powershell might be for you. That’s a pretty narrow subset. It’s not a dream gaming device right now. I’d wait.

Google buys Nest Labs for $3.2 billion

Google is making another big bet on hardware.

google buys nest

Google LIfe

The search giant announced Monday that it’s buying connected device maker Nest Labs for $3.2 billion in cash.

Nest, led by former Apple (AAPLFortune 500)designer Tony Fadell, develops “smart” home appliances like thermostats and smoke detectors that can program themselves and communicate with smartphones.

Nest will maintain its brand name and continue to be led by Fadell, Google (GOOGFortune 500) said, adding that the deal will likely close “in the next few months.”

Fadell told Fortune’s Dan Primack that Google “made a very strong pitch for how we could have all the resources of a large company while retaining the independence of a next-generation Nest.”

“This allows us to accelerate and stay in front of the coming wave of products for what we like to call the conscious home,” Fadell said.

Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement that Nest is “already delivering amazing products you can buy right now — thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe.”

“We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfill their dreams!” Page said.

Google shares ticked up 0.7% in after-hours trading Monday.

Related: Your Hackable House

Google was already an investor in Nest via its Google Ventures arm. The acquisition follows a series of efforts by Google to break into the connected home business, none of which have proven particularly successful.

The company’s Android@Home platform, designed to allow users to control home appliances via Android smartphones and tablets, never caught on. There was also the Nexus Q streaming media device, which the company put on hold back in 2012.

More recently, Google unveiled the Chromecast, a cheap device for streaming music and video on a television.

Google Nest Labs

The “connected home” was a hot topic at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The market for such devices is estimated to hit $10 billion this year, growing to $44 billion by 2017, according to wireless industry group GSMA.

Google took a big step into the hardware business in 2012, when it closed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. That purchase helped lay the groundwork for devices like the Moto X smartphone.