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Google Pixel: A Nexus to Just Compete With Apple?

Did Google launch Pixel to simply compete with Apple iPhone 7 while delivering the same Nexus promise?

Debashis Sarkar |

Updated:October 6, 2016, 2:56 PM IST
Google Pixel: A Nexus to Just Compete With Apple?
Brian Rakowski, VP of Product Management at Google, speaks about the Pixel phone, during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco. (Image: Reuters)

The Android bandwagon story has been mostly about who can provide more hardware with an economical price tag. Smartphone brands take pride in comparing themselves with Apple and have ridiculed the latter for providing less hardware specifications for premium prices.

But they never had concrete answers (or acknowledged their shortcomings) to questions like how iPhones manage to outperform, or at least be at par, with Android flagships with top-notch hardware. Thus, leaving consumers to wonder what to do with octa-core processor or 6GB RAM in their phones.

Thanks to Google Pixel. For the first time, during the launch of an Android flagship, the spec-sheet took a back seat. Throughout the presentation, Google defined its Pixel as “the best of software and hardware together to deliver a simple user experience.”

This is something Apple always took pride in and charged a premium for it.

But how can Google justify the almost similar premium price tag for its Pixel phones?

The brief Nexus and Android One story

Google never made a Nexus smartphone and neither did it make the Pixel smartphones. Of course, Google had more control in the new Pixel phones made by HTC, especially on the software front, like the Google Assistant. But wasn’t this the same story for Nexus phones as well?

Earlier, Nexus phones were positioned to consumers as the best hardware from best OEMs along with the power of Google on the software front. The key differentiator was affordability. And the older LG-made Nexus 5 is a classic example of that.

The Nexus smartphones slowly started becoming expensive. Of course, with other Android competitors offering the same or even more for lesser prices, people started to bother less about Nexus, at least in India.

Later, the same Nexus philosophy was followed while making Android One phones as well. With Android One, Google promised its best at a much pocket-friendly price. It also tried to set a benchmark in the budget range. Even then it failed to attract much eyeballs in the country.

Now comes Pixel with the same Nexus philosophy, but this time, Google has dropped affordability from its plans.
To justify this, Google has simply added some exclusivity to its new Pixel smartphones in the form of Google Assistant, Google Duo, unlimited Google Photos storage and 24X7 customer care.

Is it enough to tickle the interests of Indian consumers who are otherwise willing to opt for the iPhone 7 which starts at Rs 60,000?

What happened to ‘The best of Google should reach the masses’?

At a starting price of Rs 57,000, the Google Pixel phones are only meant as an alternative to people looking to buy an iPhone 7. Of course, it is not reaching the masses, for now.

The way Google has presented the new Pixel phones (with the same old Nexus promise), it seems like their sole mission is to be an iPhone 7 competitor and it all boils down to the premium pricing.

The question, whether or not this justifies their original Nexus vision, Google has left it for another day.

For now, Google wants people to enjoy the repackaged Pixel glory.

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| Edited by: Debashis Sarkar
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