Pixel: a miscalculation by Google

Last week, Google presented in the USA two new phones: The Pixel and Pixel XL. Without wanting to be negative, I think these phones will be a flop, at this moment in time.

The phones look great and apparently have a very solid build, according to early hands-on reports. The specs are completely up there, so performance should be fine. The camera is claimed to be amazing, and I reckon it’ll be good. So far, so good…

The problem with the phones is the price point in combination with its unique selling points.

Android phones will always have a challenge: there is direct competition from other OEMs, like OnePlus, LG, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, … The package Google presents therefore needs to have a few outstanding features, and I feel it is not enough. Let’s review the main unique selling points: 

  • Direct OS updates from Google. Although the geek is interested in this, the masses don’t understand the value of it, and generally don’t even understand that they can do it. 
  • Free cloud storage of pictures and videos. This is a great feature and they should really tout it. People love their phone cameras, and Google Photos is a great service. Besides emphasising the free storage, it should also communicate its many intelligent features. 
  • Google Assistant. Although the geeks are again very interested in playing with this, a recent survey I saw indicated that only 10% of the active smartphone users have actually used their assistant on the phone (Google Now, Siri, Cortana).

I very much like the future that Google paints for us with its emphasis on deep/machine learning. And I feel that they have done a pretty great job integrating the Assistant in these phones, as well as the Google Home appliance. However, it seems that the masses are not yet ready for this and certainly will not pay a premium for it.

And that – the price – is the nail in the coffin, I am afraid. This phone cannot be priced at the same level as the iPhone. Practically no hardware manufacturer can compete head-to-head with the iPhone. Pixel, with its limited outstanding features in a competitive Android environment and an iPhone-like price point, is doomed to fail.

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