The only reason the Pixel line isn’t Android’s crown jewel is Google
Opinion post by
C. Scott Brown
Yesterday, some rare behind-the-scenes news broke related to Google and its line of Pixel phones. In a nutshell, some of the leads at Google expressed disappointment regarding the design of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL before the devices even launched, and the line’s poor sales are proving their gut feelings correct.
Two of the most important people on the Pixel team have recently left. One of them is Marc Levoy, the computational photography expert who is a huge reason why Google Pixel cameras are so highly regarded. It’s hard to say what Google phones will even be like without Levoy around overseeing the team.
For Pixel fans, this news must be extremely frustrating. For myself, I’m not even a big fan of Pixel phones and I’m frustrated. I want so badly to love Pixel phones — I’m all-in on the Google ecosystem otherwise, so having a Google-branded smartphone would fit right in. I just can’t make the jump, though, because I’ve felt all along that the Google Pixel line is a total mess, and yesterday’s news pretty much validates those feelings.
I think the thing that frustrates me the most about the Pixel line, in general, is that Google has everything it needs to make Pixel phones the biggest name in Android. For whatever reason, though, it keeps shooting itself in the foot over and over again.
A Google Pixel phone should be the iPhone of Android
In our original review of the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, we referred to the devices right in the headline as “the Android iPhone.” What we were trying to point out is that Google is attempting to make a smartphone for everyone, not specific niche consumers. Samsung makes the phones for power users, OnePlus makes the phones for Millennial tech enthusiasts, LG makes the phones for audiophiles, etc. Google is trying to make phones for everybody.
The only problem, of course, is that Google sells far fewer Pixel phones than those companies do (yes, even LG ). Clearly, Google’s reach far exceeds its grasp.
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I don’t want to belittle what Google is trying to do. In fact, I fully support the idea of there being an iPhone of the Android world, and I wholly support that phone being created by the company that, you know, owns Android. One of the biggest reasons why iPhones are so popular and successful is because Apple controls everything about them, making the hardware, software, buying experience, support, and everything else all work together seamlessly.
Google can have that. It’s one of the largest, most successful, richest companies on the planet. It’s not like no one knows how to do it, either. I am just a journalist working in the tech industry, but it’s painfully obvious even to someone like me what Google needs to do (and stop doing) to make the Pixel line a winner.
The problems (and solutions) are...