Over the past several weeks it was widely reported that Google would be launching a new phone, the images and specs were leaked online. However, when the Pixel and Pixel XL were launched this week many people stood up and took notice.
Why? Because the Pixel phones are the first serious attempt to dethrone the iPhone. Back in 2007, when Android and iOS were announced to the world both companies took a very different path in how they would market the operating system. Google decided to focus on the Android software and left the hardware to the contract manufacturers in China. As is typical of Apple, they wanted to control and own the entire experience of software and hardware. Here we are 9 years later and it looks like Google has also started to drink the same kool-aid that Apple has been drinking.
In 2010, Google launched the Nexus line of phones and tablets but that product line is very different from the Pixel. The Nexus phones were running stock Android and Google gave the contract manufacturers some guidelines on the technical specifications but were very hands off. The Pixel line takes a page from the Apple playbook and Google has complete control of both hardware and software. Based on the technical specs the Pixel is a worthy competitor to the iPhone 7 and both are priced identically. The Pixel 32GB and the iPhone 7 32GB are both priced at $649…very ballsy of Google if you ask me.
Apple may have the hardware and software integration down to a science but Google has a couple more tricks up its sleeve. The Pixel line has 4 things it can tightly integrate:
- Project Fi – Google’s own wireless carrier. (technically it’s a mobile virtual network operator – MVNO)
- Cloud services like Gmail, Photos, Drive, Maps, etc…
Over the next 6 months, we’ll see how the Pixel performs and if Google can finally get their hardware story in order. Because so far it has been a complete disaster with fragmented products, no clear vision and group in-fighting. Which means it didn’t have time to innovate or release product quickly enough.
Below is a list of the hardware they sell and there is NO single website that lists everything that Google sells which just seems stupid to me. But, that just shows how fragmented the various hardware groups are within Google.
- Chromebooks – laptops that run Google Chrome as the operating system
- Chromecast – device to stream content to your TV or speakers
- Google Daydream – virtual reality viewer (announced this week)
- Google Home – voice-activated assistant, similar to Amazon Echo and Apple’s Siri (announced this week)
- Google Wifi – wireless mesh network routers (announced this week)
- OnHub – a router made by Asus and TP-Link
- Nest – thermostat, smoke alarm, indoor camera (Dropcam) and outdoor camera
- Nexus – a line of phones and tablets
- Pixel Phone (announced this week)
The good news is that six months ago they hired Rick Osterloh away from Motorola/Lenovo. At Google he is the goto guy for anything related to hardware and supposed to get their hardware house in order. I believe the Pixel phone might be a turning point for Google and potentially turn them into a hardware powerhouse as well.